500 Miles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"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 traveler 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] although Phillips admitted he had only rearranged it and "didn't deserve the credit".[5] David Neale writes that "500 Miles" may be related to the older folk song "900 Miles" (Roud 4959),[6] which may itself have origins in the Southern American fiddle tunes "Reuben's Train" and "Train 45".[4][7] Johnny Cash is known to have included "500 Miles" on his list of 100 essential country songs in the early 1970s.[8]

Folklorist Norm Cohen writes that 900 miles, rather than 500, is the most common distance referenced in versions of the traditional song, but other distances including 400 miles and 10,000 miles also appear.[7]

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
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)Hedy West
Producer(s)Chet Atkins
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]


Ilirët sang in Albanian.[29]


Jayanta Hazarika sang in Assamese "Ketiyaba Bejarote"(English: Sometimes when in grief) in 1962. Again, in 2018, Zubeen Garg sang "Kot Mur Maa" (English: Where’s my mom) for a drama of Aawahan Mobile Theatre group.


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.[citation needed]


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.[30] and other version 500 mil performed by Rangers-Plavci


In Finnish, the song has been recorded under at least five different song titles.[31] 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 translation from "Callin' Dr. Casey", a hit by John D. Loudermilk).[32][31] 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.[33][31] 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.[34][35][31] 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.[36]

Moreover, "500 Miles" has also been released with religious content under the name "Lapsuuden usko" (English: "Childhood Faith"), with lyrics by Matti Nyberg. This version has been recorded at least three times: 1973, 2005 and 2011.[31] It was released by a parish singer group Dominicones in 1973.[37] 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.[38][39] In 2011 it was recorded by Petrus (real name Petri Kokko, born 1970) in his album Enkelten laulut (English: "The Songs of Angels").[40]


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").[41] It reached number-one in France in 1962. Anthony's version was covered by Franco Battiato on his 1999 album Fleurs.


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.


There is a Hebrew version by Aviva Marks called, "500 מייל" in 1966. The meaning of the name is "500 mile", and it came part of her album Sweeter than Wine ("מתוק מיין"). The song is mostly translation to Hebrew.


Indian composer Rajesh Roshan used the tune to compose song 'Jab Koyi Baat Bigad Jaaye' (English: "When Things Go Wrong")[42][43][44] in 1990's movie Jurm.


The tune of this song has been used in religious contents in Indonesia, in the widely popular book of songs and praise for Catholics in Indonesia, "Madah Bakti", song #366 "Ya Tuhan Kami Datang".


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.[45]


The Slovene singer Lado Leskovar wrote a 1965 hit based on the song titled "Poslednji vlak" (English: "The Last Train").[46]


Costa Rican rock band Los Rufos recorded a Spanish version under the title "500 Millas" in 1967.[47] A similar version was recorded by the Nicaraguan band Los Rockets.[48]


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.

In media[edit]

Peter, Paul & Mary's version of the song was used in the following:

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. Archived from the original on 15 January 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Elvis Presley: Original Versions of Songs He Sang". Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2008.
  5. ^ Phillips, John: Papa John. An Autobiography, Doubleday & Co. 1986, ISBN 978-0440167839, p. 118
  6. ^ "Five Hundred Miles / Nine Hundred Miles". Mainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music. Retrieved 24 March 2020. Nine Hundred Miles is a lament of a traveller far from home that is from the beginning of the last century or earlier. Hedy West rewrote this song as Five Hundred Miles with a different tune but several overlapping verses.
  7. ^ a b 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.
  8. ^ Gross, Terry (5 October 2009). "Rosanne Cash Runs Down Her Father's 'List'". Npr.org. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  9. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade - November 11, 1963".
  10. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 24.
  12. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, November 23, 1963". Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1963/Top 100 Songs of 1963 | Music Outfitters". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  14. ^ "The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". Answers. 3 August 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  15. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Peter, Paul and Mary - Peter, Paul and Mary | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  16. ^ "Top Selling Folk Artists". Billboard Magazine. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.: 18 19 January 1963. ISSN 0006-2510.
  17. ^ "Dick & Dee Dee* - Turn Around (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. 1964. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  18. ^ Joyce, Mike (31 December 1982). "25 Years of The Country Gentlemen". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 March 2020. John Duffey's whispery tenor graces ... 500 Miles
  19. ^ Lankford, Ronnie D. Jr. "Act 1 - The Seldom Scene". ALLMUSIC. Retrieved 24 March 2020. bluegrass fans would not have objected to "Darling Corey" or "500 Miles"
  20. ^ "Zig Zag - The Hooters | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Hedy West". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  22. ^ "Various artists: Inside Llewyn Davis". Music.avclub.com. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  23. ^ "Unreleased Tapes 1981-1984 | Mamman Sani". Bandcamp. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  24. ^ Super Chick - Roach Killer 10Inch (1980) Hit Bound on YouTube
  25. ^ "Five Hundred Miles / Nine Hundred Miles (Roud index 4959)". Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  26. ^ "Five Hundred Miles / Nine Hundred Miles". Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  27. ^ "A Folk Song A Day: Song List". Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  28. ^ "365 Days Of Folk: Song List". Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  29. ^ "Iliret - Treni I Fundit". Teksteshqip.com. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  30. ^ "Helena Vondráčková | Tisíc mil". Vondrackova.cz. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  31. ^ a b c d e "Cover versions of 500 Miles written by Hedy West". Secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  32. ^ "Erkki Pohjanheimo – Kutsukaa Tri Casey (1963, Vinyl)". Discogs.com. 1963. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  33. ^ "Neljä Penniä". Discogs.com. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  34. ^ "Anki, Bosse Ja Robert – Anki, Bosse Ja Robert (1965, Vinyl)". Discogs.com. 1965. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  35. ^ "Anki Bosse Robert – Sitruunapuu / Viimeinen Vihellys (1964, Vinyl)". Discogs.com. 1964. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  36. ^ "Jukka Raitanen – Yölinjalla (1979, Vinyl)". Discogs.com. 1979. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  37. ^ "Dominicones – Ihminen (1973, Vinyl)". Discogs.com. 1973. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  38. ^ "Tilkkutäkki - Kitara, Tähdet Ja Taivas (2005, CD)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  39. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Mikko Leppilampi - Lapsuuden usko". YouTube.
  40. ^ "Petri Kokko". Secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  41. ^ "InfoDisc: Les Bilans Récapitulatifs (Chansons, Tubes ou Succès) des Titres N° 1". Archived from the original on 22 December 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  42. ^ "'Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye' copied from 'Five Hundred Miles'". Bollywoodcopy.com. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  43. ^ "Jab koi baat bigad jaye–500 miles away from home". Chennairavi.wordpress.com. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  44. ^ "Five Hundred miles / Jab koi baat bigar jaie comparison". YouTube. Archived from the original on 19 December 2021.
  45. ^ "Ikimonogakari Vocalist Kiyoe Yoshioka Announces Debut Solo Album "Uta Iro"". Jpopasia.com. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  46. ^ "Iz naftalina: Lado Leskovar – Poslednji vlak - siol.net". Siol.net. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  47. ^ "Los Rufos – Ven Amorcito Ven / 500 Millas (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  48. ^ "Los Rockets – Thelma / 500 Millas (1965, Vinyl)". Discogs.com. 1965. Retrieved 20 December 2021.