I love the image of traveling shoes that appears in a number of old blues songs. Often the singer is taking down his traveling shoes to escape something- bad times, oppression, a bad relationship, or just a feeling of restlessness that can only be cured by travel. In other songs, the singer is leaving this world and going on to another. The traveling shoes are required to transport him or her to heaven. Growing up with these songs only added to my desire to travel.
The songs may be old but I am not alone in liking the image of traveling shoes. Elvin Bishop wrote a modern version of traveling shoes. His threat of domestic violence, while not condoned, is an homage to earlier blues songs. The threats were not limited to oppressive males. Alberta Hunter once threatened to crack open her lover’s skull and “drink his blood like wine” if she caught him “kicking in another mule’s stall.”
In other songs, the singer is heaven bound in his or her traveling shoes. While everyone wants to go to heaven, not everyone wants to go right now. The absence of traveling shoes is sometimes used as a reason to keep death waiting.
If you did not have traveling shoes then a walking cane was a good substitute.
I loved the idea of traveling shoes so much that I named the blog Get My Traveling Shoes. The shoes in the image are my current traveling shoes. These Timberland waterproof hiking boots have already traveled across two continents and five countries in less than five months. Before they reach their six month birthday they will cross the Pacific, stopping in Honolulu, to start an adventure in a new country on a new continent.
I may have to switch to a walking cane when I am older but for now, in the words of Louis Armstrong:
I’m on my way now, got on my traveling shoes
On my way
Yes, I’m about to leave you on my way
I’m wearing my traveling shoes on my way
I hope you will follow along these next few weeks as I travel from Charlotte, to Honolulu and then Thailand.