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"
Released September 1963
Format 7" single
Label RCA Victor
Songwriter(s) Hedy West
Bobby Bare singles chronology
"Detroit City"
"500 Miles Away From Home"
"Miller's Cave"

"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]

  • 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").[15] 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.
  • 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).[citation needed]
  • The Slovene singer Lado Leskovar wrote a 1965 hit based on the song titled "Poslednji vlak" (English: "The Last Train").[16]
  • 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.[17]

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.
  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 2012-02-19.
  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
  9. ^ Musicoutfitters.com
  10. ^ "The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". Answers. 2016-08-03. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  11. ^ Bruce Eder. "Peter, Paul and Mary - Peter, Paul and Mary | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  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 2016-09-26.
  14. ^ "Hedy West | Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 December 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2011.
  16. ^ "Iz naftalina: Lado Leskovar – Poslednji vlak - siol.net". Siol.net. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  17. ^ "别送我". Baidu BaiKe. Retrieved Aug 16, 2017.

External links[edit]