Music

Classic Country Throwback: Billie Jo Spears' Forgotten Feminist Anthem, 'Mr. Walker, It's All Over'

Although it seems less obvious of a declaration of independence now when compared to the genre-defining hits of Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn, the late Billie Jo Spears' "Mr. Walker, It's All Over" found crossover success in its time and deserves further consideration 50 years later as one of popular culture's boldest statements against sexual harassment in the workplace.

Spears cut an early version of the Tom T. Hall-penned classic "Harper Valley PTA," but Jeannie C. Riley's definitive 1968 take came out first. Her next shot at acknowledging women's liberation in a hit country song came with Capitol Records' 1969 release of "Mr. Walker, It's All Over." Prolific songwriter Gene Crysler penned the not-so-subtle tale of how sleazy men nearly ruined a New York secretary's life and self-esteem. Despite its mature theme, the song cracked the top five of the country charts.

Back then, "Harper Valley PTA" wasn't the only recent hit with multiple versions cut by mainstream artists. After Spears found success with "Mr. Walker, It's All Over," the song entered the repertoires of fellow country singers Melba Montgomery and Lynn Anderson and legendary jazz vocalist Nancy Wilson.

By 1972, the lack of a follow-up hit found Spears cut by Capitol. The Beaumont, Texas native signed with United Artists in 1975 and scored the hottest single of her career that same year with "Blanket on the Ground." Fans of classic country should look up not just Spears' hits but also her duets with Del Reeves.

Unfortunately, the warnings shared by Spears' 1969 hit still ring true in Nashville and beyond, which is why it deserves consideration when discussing country music's history of daring artists and progressive-minded hits.

"Mr. Walker, It's All Over" Lyrics

I left Garden City, Kansas with a ticket and a yen to see New York
I typed eighty words a minute so your corporation let me go to work
I fetch paper clips and coffee even help you dodge your domineering wife
Mr. Walker, it's all over. I don't like the New York secretary's life

In this building there's a crowd of guys with old familiar thoughts upon their minds
That's a lot of hands a reaching out, you grab the things that I consider mine
And the president pursues me even though he's old and hair a turnin' white
Mr. Walker, it's all over. I don't like the New York secretary's life

There's a flat in Greenwich Village that I took because the subway wasn't far
But a trumpet player's upstairs and below me there's a jumping all night bar
And to frost a bitter cake I have to share the place with bugs and big ol' mice
Mr. Walker, it's all over. I don't like the New York secretary's life

Your sweetheart in personnel said I should give her written notice like the rest
So I wrote goodbye with my brightest lipstick right across her big expensive desk
You'd better call the Times and tell 'em put your wanted ad right back in classified
Mr. Walker, it's all over. I don't like the New York secretary's life

There's a Greyhound at the station and a mom at home with open arms for me
Garden City's looking better every minute now since I have learned to see
And the boy next door don't know it but come June he's gonna gain himself a wife
Mr. Walker, it's all over. I don't like the New York secretary's life

Mr. Walker, it's all over. I don't like the New York secretary's life
Mr. Walker, it's all over. I don't like the New York secretary's life

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Classic Country Throwback: Billie Jo Spears' Forgotten Feminist Anthem, 'Mr. Walker, It's All Over'