Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Music: 500 Miles

Away from home, away from home,
Away from home, away from home.
Lord I'm 500 miles away from home.

When I was in Hong Kong from 1981 to 1983, I took my guitar and happily found that American Folk music was quite popular. One of my song books had the cords and lyrics to 500 Miles. I had a colleague who worked with the Vietnamese refugee camps that had been set up in Hong Kong to assist with the resettlement of thousands of Vietnamese who were among the hundreds of thousands of "boat people" who fled Vietnam following the war. My friend told me that "500 Miles" was one of the favorite songs among the refugees. They all related to that wistful refrain of being far from home.

"500 Miles," written by Hedy West in 1961, became quite a hit in the Folk Revival of the 1960s. It was originally recorded by The Journeymen, later covered by The Kingston Trio, Peter,Paul & Mary, The Brothers Four, and many others. Recently an updated version was recorded by Th Hooters giving it a faster pace and adding new lyrics to commemorate the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Justin Timberlake recorded it for the soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis.

At the same time the song was gaining popularity in the United States, Richard Anthony recorded a French version, "Et j'entends siffler le train" ("I Hear the Whistle of the Train"). Here you can enjoy that beautiful French version.

(To hear The Journeymen's original version, go here. For The Hooter's updated version, go here.)



  1. I love that song. Jilda and I both are big PP&M fans and we've actually played that song when we perform covers. It has a haunting melody and is sad beyond words.

    1. I'm glad you two have such good taste in music, Rick!


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