The role of the boot in popular music

by DGO Web Administrator

I love boots. And music. And lyrics. This week, Style Fetish highlights some musical boots – the right and wrong a pair of boots can do and who is wearing them. The boot stands firm in music: Concepts of personal identity, strength and the idea of moving on can all be clearly conveyed in this sartorial symbol.

“Fairies Wear Boots,” by Black Sabbath

Ozzy swears this is true, you gotta believe him. Rumors have it that Ozzy and Tommy Iommi wrote this song either after getting stoned in a park or after the band got attacked by skinheads. I’m going with the first explanation and only want to know what kind of boots fairies wore in 1970, while dancing with dwarves. A funny little early-metal ditty, practically a nursery rhyme compared to other Sabbath songs.

“These Boots Are Made for Walkin,’” by Nancy Sinatra

Classic ’60s empowerment ditty sung by Frank’s daughter, Nancy Junior and written by Nancy’s partner in music, Lee Hazlewood. A song of threat and revenge, the boots in “Boots” give Nancy the power to discern “lyin’” from “truthin’.” In the original video, the matching boots worn by Nancy and her backup dancers are calf-high, shiny, spike-heeled and 1980s-prescient.

“Eleanor Put Your Boots On,” by Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand encouraged Eleanor to don her boots and run (in her elegant way) and take giant leaps through Brooklyn, sweetly promising to be there when she lands. This song is thought to refer to Eleanor Friedberger, a most excellent songwriter and musician blessed with the nerdiest name in rock.

“Boots of Chinese Plastic,” by The Pretenders

Chrissy Hynde sings to Jesus, Buddha, Krishna AND Allah, recognizing their spiritual philosophies and lamenting our human heartaches while “by the way,” snidely complimenting your cheap, crappy footwear. I hear it as a plea for understanding and enlightenment amid inane conversations. This song recognizes that small gap between profundity and superficiality in human interactions.

“Go-Go Boots,” by Drive-By Truckers

Another boot song with spiritual undertones! Drive-By Truckers warn that hypocrisy and murder are the slippery slope located directly adjacent to the toes of a pair of go-go boots. “His wife’s in the ground, the Devils in his head, them go-go boots are underneath the bed”: Even a preacher who “packs a big-ass church” can be led far astray by the power of the boot. There are actually quite a few songs with lyrics about “boots under the bed” and the unsavory implications thereof. Cheaters beware: Unfamiliar, under-bed boots get you busted!

“Sex is in the Heel,” by Cyndi Lauper

This song is a show tune from the 2013 musical “Kinky Boots,” based on a fascinating true story of a British boot maker (it was a movie, too). All of the music and lyrics were written by an old favorite of mine, Cyndi Lauper. She reminds us that “Sex is in the heel, even if you break it … sex is in the heel, just embrace it”.

I mourn my own broken, unwearable pair of vintage 1960s burgundy leather platform go-go boots, extra-beloved and impossible to give up as they were supposedly worn to a Velvet Underground show. Maybe I should assuage my grief by writing a song about them because it sure seems like a boot in general is the sexiest, toughest and most rocking clothing item to sing about as you dance, walk and run through life.

Heather Narwid owns Sideshow, a vintage and modern clothing store for men and women established in Dolores in 2007. Sideshow is now located in Durango at 208 County Road 250 in the fabulous commerce corridor between Florida Road and 32nd Street. Sideshow is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m.


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