Flashback Friday: “Walk On By”

For this Flashback Friday, I’m combining the “One Song, X number of ways” post with the titular series.

Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Walk On By” is a standard of pop, with dozens of covers in all kinds of genres. For the purposes of this blog, I will focus on only four of them: Dionne Warwick’s original, Isaac Hayes’ epic transformation of the song,  The Decoders’ recent mixing of both versions with a twist, and a version that was popular during my high school years.

Warwick’s version is straight sixties, New York pop. A piece of perfection in just under three minutes. Dionne flashes the vocals that made her one of the 1960s best singers, on what would be her biggest R&B hit.

Hayes takes the song in a darker, epic and expansive direction, taking what was originally a short pop song into something else entirely. From his classic album Hot Buttered Soul, his twelve (twelve?) minute take has become a standard all its own.


The greatness of The Decoders cover of “Walk On By” lies not in the outstanding vocal of Noelle Scaggs, nor the looking forward while looking back arrangement. It’s all of that and then some; it’s the recognizable bits and pieces of Dionne Warwick’s version that meet the chunks taken from Isaac Hayes’ stretched out take, put in a blender with a reggae beat, horns and strings and those vocals (those vocals!) riding on top.

A special shout-out to D-Train, whose version of the song gets an honorable mention here. It definitely screams 1980s, and I loved it when I was in school. But it just doesn’t measure up to the three versions above.

No matter how it is performed, the real greatness starts with the song itself.

Enjoy your Friday, everyone!

21 Replies to “Flashback Friday: “Walk On By””

    1. The first is often the best version of the song; more likely the closest interpretation of the songwriters. And Bacharach-David had a string of great songs. Isaac took that song to a whole ‘nother place-if Warwick was black & white, Ike’s was Cinemascope and Technicolor. I like the Decoders’ version because it combines the best of both of those.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Have to agree on the Dionne Warwick version but I watched the live clip of the Decoder’s reggae version and it was a great grooving version. You’ll probably kick me out for saying I also like the SEAL version:-) Best. Chevvy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this song. I think Isaac’s version is my fave but the Decoders version is good too! Actually, I love the beats in the D Train version too. It’s more of an upbeat, funky make ya wanna dance version! No matter what I love this song.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the Isaac Hayes version definitely gives more of a feel of what the song is portraying. I think you’re supposed to feel sad when you hear the song. Maybe that’s why D Train’s version is confusing! lol

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Man, I completely forgot about the D -Train version. It was so good to hear that one again 🙂

    The one that I thought about was by Sybil. You remember that one?

    I love your one song; so many ways posts. I have thought about doing something similar–but not quite the same when “My Jams” ends.

    Thanks for leading me her. Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember Sybil’s version. I remember deciding to leave her out so that I could put the Decoders in. Nothing against her version though, but because the Decoders tried to combine Isaac’s and Dionne’s versions together I thought that was interesting.

      Thanks for checking it out!

      Liked by 1 person

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