Walking on a Thin Line (song)

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"Walking on a Thin Line"
Walking on a thin line.jpg
Single by Huey Lewis and the News
from the album Sports
B-side "The Only One"
Released 1984
Format Vinyl
Genre Rock
Length 5:11 (album version)
4:01 (single version)
Label Chrysalis
Writer(s) Andre Pessis, Kevin Wells
Producer(s) Huey Lewis and the News
Huey Lewis and the News singles chronology
"If This Is It"
"Walking on a Thin Line"
"The Power of Love"

"Walking On A Thin Line" is a song performed by Huey Lewis and the News, released in 1984 as the fifth and final single from their 1983 album, Sports.


Considered one of the band's more "serious" songs, "Walking on a Thin Line" was written by Andre Pessis and Kevin Wells (of Clover, then 5000 Volts).[1][2] The Sacramento Bee thought the song was about a veteran's post-war stress.[3] However, the song is really about the thoughts of serving Vietnam War soldiers and veterans in the midst of the war.[2][4]

In live performances, Lewis would often dedicate the song to the casualties of the war in Vietnam,[5] as well as the veterans.[6] During some live performances, ESPN personality Chris Berman, who is a fan of the band, has shown up as a surprise guest, singing the song with the band.[7][8] Berman, who met the band at an ESPN tenth anniversary party,[8] when describing football highlights on NFL Live, will sometimes reference the chorus to the song.[9]


Reception for the song was very mixed. Christopher Connelly of Rolling Stone said that the song was "annoying", and added that, "wherein Lewis even sings "desperation" just like Men at Work's Colin Hay. The tune's a semistomper but is saddled with some repellent lines about a Vietnam serviceman–"I'm the boy next door/The one you find so easy to ignore/Is that what I was fighting for?"–that equate military service with Getting the Girl."[10] Steve Morse of The Boston Globe thought that it was one of the band's more "serious" songs.[1] Morse also thought that it was an "unusual piece" and that it was a "funky ode to Vietnam veterans".[1] Robert Draper of the Austin Chronicle said that it showed that Lewis could show "signs of awareness."[11] The Arizona Daily Star said that the song showed the band's "modest abilities for rockin' out."[12] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic calls the song one of the songs on the album that has "memorable hooks, driven home with economical precision by a tight bar band, who are given just enough polish to make them sound like superstars."[13]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, the song was the last single released from the album, Sports. It peaked at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100,[14] the only single from the album not to reach the Top 10 on the Billboard charts. The song was a Top 20 hit on the Top Rock Tracks chart, peaking at #16. The single was released in Australia where it reached #70.


Chart (1984) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report 70
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 18
US Top Rock Tracks (Billboard)[14] 16


  1. ^ a b c Morse, Steve (23 April 1987). "Huey Lewis Still a Hippie at Heart". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Matre, Lynn Van (7 August 1988). "World of Difference: Huey Lewis and the News Expand Its Horizons". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  3. ^ "Sing a Song of Protest: Anti-war Music Gave Voice to a Generation That Wanted to Give Peace a Chance". The Sacramento Bee. 9 May 1999. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  4. ^ "Vets New Heroes of Popular Culture". Atlanta Journal Constitution. 31 March 1985. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  5. ^ "No Surprises as the News Rocks Cal Expo". The Sacramento Bee. 18 August 1985. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  6. ^ "The Official Huey Lewis and the News Newsletter: Newsline". hln.org. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  7. ^ Vitale, Dick (15 August 2005). "Yanks, Sox Heating Up". ESPN. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Seremet, Pat (26 July 2002). "Morning Madness at Max's". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  9. ^ Tofig, Dana (1 September 1992). "Huey Lewis Hasn't Lost His Old Magic". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  10. ^ Connelly, Christopher (2 February 1984). "Huey Lewis and the News: Sports : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  11. ^ Draper, Robert (5 April 1983). "Dead Shots". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  12. ^ "Toros Joins the News, Help Huey Lewis Score". The Arizona Daily Star. 24 May 1992. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  13. ^ "allmusic ((( Sports > Overview )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  14. ^ a b c Huey Lewis & the News – Sports > Awards at AllMusic. Retrieved 18 November 2012.