"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, and a 1961 copyright is held by Atzal Music, Inc. "500 Miles" is West's "most anthologized song." Some recordings have also credited Curly Williams, or John Phillips as co-writers. 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".
Bobby Bare version
|"500 Miles Away From Home"|
|Single by Bobby Bare|
|from the album 500 Miles Away From Home|
|B-side||"It All Depends on Linda"|
|Bobby Bare singles chronology|
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.
Other cover versions
- The song appears on the 1961 eponymous debut album by The Journeymen; this may have been its first release.
- The song was heard on the February, 1962 Kingston Trio live album College Concert (a 1962 US #3).
- It was further popularized by Peter, Paul and Mary, who included the song on their debut album in May 1962.
- American country music singer Bobby Bare recorded a version with new lyrics, which became a hit single in 1963.
- Dick and Dee Dee released a version of the song on their 1964 album, Turn Around.
- The song was covered by Sonny & Cher on their 1965 album Look at Us. This version was played over the credits of the 1966 BBC TV film Cathy Come Home.
- The lyrics feature heavily in the Bob Dylan song "I Was Young When I Left Home."
- The Hooters recorded a version of this song with additional lyrics, dedicated to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Peter, Paul and Mary provided background vocals for them, as well. This version is on the album Zig Zag.
- It has also been recorded by Terry Callier, Lonnie Donegan, the Brothers Four, Glen Campbell, Johnny Rivers, Reba McEntire, Jackie DeShannon, The Seekers, Elvis Presley, Peter and Gordon, Eric Bibb, Hootenanny Singers, Joan Baez, Takako Matsu, The Persuasions and many others. Recently, the song has been recorded by Justin Timberlake, David Michael Bennett, Carey Mulligan and Stark Sands for the soundtrack of the film Inside Llewyn Davis.
In other languages
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- 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"). 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'    in 1990's movie Jurm".
- Bengali singer Anjan Dutt sung the song in Bengali called "Mr. Hall" in his 1997 album Keu Gaan Gaye.
- 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).
- The Slovene singer Lado Leskovar wrote a 1965 hit based on the song titled "Poslednji vlak" (English: "The Last Train").
- 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.
- 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.
- Blood, Peter and Annie Patterson (eds), Rise Up Singing, Sing Out Corporation, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania , United States, 1992, p. 232
- Anderson, Yohann (ed), Songs, Songs and Creations, Inc., San Anselmo, California, United States, 1983, p. 29
- Hunt, Ken (3 August 2005). "Obituary: Hedy West". The Independent. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- 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.
- Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
- Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 24.
- Cash Box Top 100 Singles, November 23, 1963
- "The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". Answers. 3 August 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
- Bruce Eder. "Peter, Paul and Mary - Peter, Paul and Mary | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
- "Top Selling Folk Artists". Billboard Magazine. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.: 18 19 January 1963. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Dick & Dee Dee* - Turn Around (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
- "Zig Zag - The Hooters | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
- "Hedy West | Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 December 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye' copied from 'Five Hundred Miles".
- "Jab koi baat bigad jaye–500 miles away from home".
- "Five Hundred miles / Jab koi baat bigar jaie comparison".
- "Iz naftalina: Lado Leskovar – Poslednji vlak - siol.net". Siol.net. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
- "别送我". Baidu BaiKe. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Ikimonogakari Vocalist Kiyoe Yoshioka Announces Debut Solo Album "Uta Iro"". JPop Asia. Retrieved 25 October 2018.