In 1995, Nancy Sinatra made a comeback culminating in the cover and a photo spread for the May issue of Playboy. She also toured for the first time in more than two decades, made a new album, and re-released vintage tunes.
Nancy Sinatra secured her place firmly in popular culture with her comeback. But where exactly is that place? What is its context?
It begins and ends with These Boots Are Made For Walkin’. Nancy Sinatra certainly achieved success beyond Boots with appearances on variety shows, her own television special, and films.
She reached a certain status in the entertainment industry not merely in addition to Boots, but arguably, because of it. However, she never quite matched the initial impact on the popular culture.
She did not sustain the success of Boots, a song defining her professional persona as a woman of strength, independence, and power.
One might argue that Nancy Sinatra was nothing more than a one-hit wonder, Something Stupid notwithstanding. That song was a duet with her father, Frank Sinatra, and a #1 hit in 1967.
The argument rings hollow because Boots has enormous repercussions.
Song and performer are synonymous. You cannot think of one without thinking of the other.
Pepsi selected Boots to show the difference between hard rock and other forms of popular music in the Hard Rock segment of its 1985 syndicated offering Pepsi Walk Thru Rock. In this program, segments approximately seven minutes in length depict the history of rock music through film clips and music videos.
Boots represents a highly significant segment of women in the 1960s. One can formidably suggest Boots jump started the women’s lib movement because the lyrics state that women will not put with mistreatment by men.
When Ms. Sinatra made her mid-1990s comeback, the April 16, 1995 edition of The New York Times ran an article in its Styles section highlighting her. Judith Newman’s article These Boots Apparently Think They’re the Energizer Bunny references the women’s lib angle in the introduction.
“Before Helen Reddy taught women to roar, before Gloria Gaynor urged them to survive and way before Cyndi Lauper pointed out, quite sensibly, what girls just want to have, there was Nancy Sinatra and her boots.”
One of Nancy Sinatra’s songs from Speedway just about sums it up. There Ain’t Nothin’ Like A Song.