500 Miles

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"500 Miles" (also known as "500 Miles Away from Home" or "Railroaders' Lament") is a song made popular in the United States and Europe during the 1960s folk revival. The simple repetitive lyrics offer a lament by a traveller who is far from home, out of money and too ashamed to return.


The song is generally credited as being written by Hedy West,[1][2] and a 1961 copyright is held by Atzal Music, Inc.[1] "500 Miles" is West's "most anthologized song."[3] Some recordings have also credited Curly Williams, or John Phillips as co-writers.[4] David Neale writes that "500 Miles" may be related to the older folk song "900 Miles", which may itself have origins in the southern American fiddle tunes "Reuben's Train" and "Train 45".[4][5]

Bobby Bare version[edit]

"500 Miles Away From Home"
Single by Bobby Bare
from the album 500 Miles Away From Home
B-side"It All Depends on Linda"
ReleasedSeptember 1963
Format7" single
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)Hedy West
Bobby Bare singles chronology
"Detroit City"
"500 Miles Away From Home"
"Miller's Cave"

The most commercially successful version of the song was Bobby Bare's in 1963. His version became a Top 10 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, as well as a Top 5 hit on both the Country and Adult Contemporary charts.

Chart history[edit]

Other cover versions[edit]

In other languages[edit]


Bengali singer Anjan Dutt sung the song in Bengali called "Mr. Hall" in his 1997 album Keu Gaan Gaye.


In 2017 a Chinese adaptation of the song called "别送我" (English: "Don’t send me off") was released on the soundtrack of "Duckweed" and sung by Chen Hongyu, Su Zixu, Liu Hao Lin, and Han Luo.[16]


Czech version was recorded in 1967 as "Tisíc mil" (English: "Thousand Miles") with the lyrics by Ivo Fischer, sung as a duet by Waldemar Matuška and Helena Vondráčková.[17]


In Finnish the song has been recorded under at least five different song titles.[18] In 1963 Erkki Pohjanheimo recorded the song under title "Juna jättää laiturin" (English: "The Train Leaves the Platform"). Lyrics were written by Reino Helismaa. Pohjanheimo recorded the song from its French title "J'entends siffler le train", and it was on the B side of a 7" single called "Kutsukaa Tri Casey" (almost direct traslation from "Callin' Dr. Casey", a hit by John D. Loudermilk).[19][18] The following year a Finnish vocal quartet Neljä Penniä (English: Four Pennies) recorded a 7" single that consisted of two songs: "Washington Square" on the A side, and on the flip side there was a Finnish version of "500 Miles" under the title "Pitkät illat" (English: "The Long Evenings"), lyrics by Sauvo Puhtila.[20][18] Also in 1964 another version of the song was recorded by folk-spirited trio Anki, Bosse & Robert and titled "Viimeinen vihellys" (English: "The Last Whistle"), lyrics by Juha Vainio. "Viimeinen vihellys" was also a 7" single B side, on the A side there was Will Holt's song "Lemon Tree" (Finnish: "Sitruunapuu"). "Viimeinen vihellys" was released also on their self-titled record in 1965.[21][22][18] In 1979 the song was recorded yet again, by Jukka Raitanen. This time it was called "Liian kaukana" (English: "Too Far Away"). Lyrics were written by Raul Reiman. This song was released on Raitanen's album Yölinjalla. "Yölinjalla(in)" song is a Finnish version of the song "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash.[23]

"500 Miles" has also been released with religious content under name "Lapsuuden usko" (English: "Childhood Faith"), lyrics by Matti Nyberg. This song has been recorded at least three times: 1973, 2005 and 2011.[18] It was released by a parish singer group Dominicones in 1973,.[24] In 2005 it was recorded by actor and singer Mikko Leppilampi. The song was released on album "Tilkkutäkki" (English: "Quilt", by various artists), and targeted to people who want to nostalgize the time of their confirmation on Lutheran church.[25][26] In 2011 it was recorded by Petrus (real name Petri Kokko, born 1970) in his album Enkelten laulut (English: "The Songs of Angels").[27]


Richard Anthony had a hit with a French version of the song, "Et j'entends siffler le train" (English: "I Hear the Whistle of the Train").[28] It reached number-one in France in 1962.


In 1963 a German version, "Und dein Zug fährt durch die Nacht" (English: "And Your Train Goes Through the Night"), was a success for Peter Beil. Also in German, Santiano in 2012 released a marine-themed version, "500 Meilen", on their album Bis ans Ende der Welt.


Indian composer Rajesh Roshan used the same tune to compose song 'Jab Koyi Baat Bigad Jaaye' (English: "When Things Go Wrong")[29][30][31] in 1990's movie Jurm".


The Japanese duo Wink included it as the B-side of their 1989 single 淋しい熱帯魚 (Samishii Nettaigyo), under the title 背中 まで 500 マイル (Senaka Made 500 Mairu; 500 Miles Back).[citation needed] In 2018, Japanese singer Kiyoe Yoshioka sang a Japanese version of the song, "500 Mairu" (500マイル) on her debut album Uta Iro.[32]


The Slovene singer Lado Leskovar wrote a 1965 hit based on the song titled "Poslednji vlak" (English: "The Last Train").[33]


There are two versions in Vietnamese. One is "Tiễn em lần cuối" ("Send You Off for the Last Time") sung by Trung Hanh, another one is "Người tình ngàn dặm" ("Thousands-mile-away Lover") sung by Ngọc Lan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Blood, Peter and Annie Patterson (eds), Rise Up Singing, Sing Out Corporation, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania , United States, 1992, p. 232
  2. ^ Anderson, Yohann (ed), Songs, Songs and Creations, Inc., San Anselmo, California, United States, 1983, p. 29
  3. ^ a b Hunt, Ken (3 August 2005). "Obituary: Hedy West". The Independent. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Cohen, Norm (2000). Long Steel Rail: The Railroad in American Folksong, 2nd Ed. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. pp. 503–517. ISBN 0-252-06881-5. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  6. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 24.
  8. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, November 23, 1963". Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  9. ^ Musicoutfitters.com
  10. ^ "The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". Answers. 3 August 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  11. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Peter, Paul and Mary - Peter, Paul and Mary | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Top Selling Folk Artists". Billboard Magazine. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.: 18 19 January 1963. ISSN 0006-2510.
  13. ^ "Dick & Dee Dee* - Turn Around (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  14. ^ "Zig Zag - The Hooters | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  15. ^ "Hedy West | Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  16. ^ "别送我". Baidu BaiKe. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  17. ^ http://www.studio-ld.net, Helena Vondráčková | Tisíc mil, retrieved 27 October 2019
  18. ^ a b c d e https://secondhandsongs.com/work/8308/versions#nav-entity
  19. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Erkki-Pohjanheimo-Kutsukaa-Tri-Casey/release/2222681
  20. ^ https://www.discogs.com/artist/1796982-Nelj%C3%A4-Penni%C3%A4
  21. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Anki-Bosse-Ja-Robert-Anki-Bosse-Ja-Robert/release/3266626
  22. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Anki-Bosse-Robert-Sitruunapuu-Viimeinen-Vihellys/release/12342444
  23. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Jukka-Raitanen-Y%C3%B6linjalla/release/3062690
  24. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Dominicones-Ihminen/release/3185027
  25. ^ https://www.discogs.com/release/1841758
  26. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxqtiFBOkzE
  27. ^ https://secondhandsongs.com/artist/133076
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 December 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ "Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye' copied from 'Five Hundred Miles".
  30. ^ "Jab koi baat bigad jaye–500 miles away from home".
  31. ^ "Five Hundred miles / Jab koi baat bigar jaie comparison".
  32. ^ "Ikimonogakari Vocalist Kiyoe Yoshioka Announces Debut Solo Album "Uta Iro"". JPop Asia. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  33. ^ "Iz naftalina: Lado Leskovar – Poslednji vlak - siol.net". Siol.net. Retrieved 13 July 2017.

External links[edit]