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900 Miles/500 miles

16 Dec 01 - 01:09 PM (#611030)
Subject: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: jaze

Are both of these songs sung to the same tune? I'm familiar with 500 Miles. I know I've heard 900 miles before and liked it, but can't remember if it's the same tune.Also, anyone know a good version of 900 Miles? Thanks in advance for any help.. James

Nine Hundred Miles (with tune)
Five Hundred Miles (with tune)
Reuben's Train (no tune)


16 Dec 01 - 02:26 PM (#611081)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Rick Fielding

900 Miles and 500 miles APPEAR to be separate entities. Both Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston recorded '900' and I believe Hedy West composed the tune 500 Miles. Her song was added to, and became a huge 'hit' in the sixties sung by Bobby Bare. Peter Paul and Mary (and virtually every other commercial folk group also recorded it)

900 Miles sticks pretty close to the Southern fiddle tune "Reuben's train" and is often played using a minor scale. The lyrics are very common and are found in dozens of other Traditional Mountain songs.

You can find the '900' melody a lot in the Bluegrass repertoire, as "Train 45".

Rick


16 Dec 01 - 03:37 PM (#611126)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Rolfyboy6

I've heard a Hedy West recording of 500 Miles and its kinship with 900 miles was obvious, including the same verses. It's a slower major key variant of the old modal/minor 900 Miles/Reuben's Train. Hedy's appalachian style makes this more evident than Peter, Paul, and Mary's.


17 Dec 01 - 02:16 AM (#611410)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: M.Ted

Love Bobby Bare's version, and his story, which is that he'd heard the tune and wanted to record it, but could only find an instrumental version at the local store, so took it with him to the studio, learned the melody, remembered what words that he could, and made up the rest--From Reuben Train to 900 Miles, to 500 Miles to 500 Miles, the folk process is an amazing thing!


17 Dec 01 - 11:53 PM (#612159)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Lane

Lets see...I play a tune that I call 900 miles...


"Well I'm walkin down this track
I've got tears in my eyes
Tryin' to read a letter from my home
And if this train runs me right,
I'll be home tomorrow night
'cause it's nine hundred miles from my home
And I hate to hear that lonesome whistle blow....
^^^
more....

Does that ring a bell??

Lane


18 Dec 01 - 01:47 AM (#612193)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Rolfyboy6

Yup, Lane, that's '900 Miles' in its fine old railroad clothes.


18 Dec 01 - 03:47 AM (#612208)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: BlueFolk

I guess '900' is the old traditional song. The popular 60s folkie version deals (mostly) with '500'. It was first done by The Journeymen (including young Scott McKenzie) in 1961. Followed Peter Paul & Mary in 62 to make it a hit. The New Christy Minstrels did in 1962 a 900 miles-version. Probably same tune, but not really sure. Hedy West and Bobby Bare, who are named as co-writing the 500-miles version of the song, according to the the BMI-archives, recorded it in 1963. BMI registers '500 Miles', aka '500 Miles From Home'.

BMI registers 5 times a song '900 Miles' or '900 Miles from Home', but the composers mentioned are unknown names to me.


18 Dec 01 - 12:16 PM (#612380)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Rick Fielding

Hi John. If you're still around, would you give us the "straight from the Horse's mouth" story on "Abilene", and what (if any) influences ended up producing "Windy and Warm". Back in pre-history, I was friends with Geo.IV, (he spent a lot of time in Toronto) and remember hearing "Break My Mind" very shortly after he recorded it...I think about 20 of us learned it the next day!

Rick


18 Dec 01 - 01:02 PM (#612406)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: McGrath of Harlow

You couldn't have a song about being 900 kilometres from your home could you? The word is just too clumsy. Why do people making up terms like that never have any sense of language?


18 Dec 01 - 01:14 PM (#612417)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,Lori

There's a whole family of "I Can't Go Back Home This-a-Way" songs of which Hedy West's "500 Miles," Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston's "900 Miles," and everybody's "Reuben's Train" are members. So is "I Can't Feed My Family This-a-Way," sung by the late Rev. Fred Kirkpatrick (affectionately known as Brother Kirk).

Here is how I sing it, in the key of D with an F# in the scale, as would be expected, but with a C natural rather than a C#.

It's been years since I left home,
And I've been a railroad bum,
And I never got a letter from my home,
Till a letter finally came,
Saying take the very next train,
Saying, son [girl], it's time for you to come on home.

It said your mama's dead and gone,
And your sister has gone wrong,
Saying, son [girl], it's time for you to come on home.

Not a shirt on my back,
Not a dollar to my name,
Lord, I can't go back home this-a-way.

This-a-way, this-a-way,
This-a-way, this-a-way,
Lord, I can't go back home this-a-way.

So, I'm walking down the track,
I got tears in my eyes,
I'm trying to read that letter from my home,
If the train runs me right,
I'll be home tomorrow night,
'Cause I'm nine hundreds miles from my home.

Nine hundred miles, nine hundred miles,
Nine hundred miles, nine hundred miles,
'Cause I'm nine hundred miles from my home.


18 Dec 01 - 01:19 PM (#612423)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST

Lord I'm one

Lord I'm two

Lord I'm three

Lord I'm four

Lord I'm five hundred miles away from home.


18 Dec 01 - 05:56 PM (#612585)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Bennet Zurofsky

It sure would be nice if it were easier to hear Hedy West sing, either live or on recording. She's one of the best, but has performed and recorded too rarely.


18 Dec 01 - 06:10 PM (#612593)
Subject: Hedy West
From: Joe Offer

Hedy was supposed to reissue her LP's on compact disc, but I haven't heard about any progress in that situation. There are threads about Hedy here (click) and here (click).
-Joe Offer-


19 Dec 01 - 06:26 AM (#612966)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: RichM

Metric system obviously: 900 kilometres (or) 500 miles.

Rich McCarthy


23 Dec 01 - 07:00 AM (#615240)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Suffet

Didn't the Holy Modal Rounders do a variant of this song with a refrain that went something like this?

And it's ooh Lordy me, and it's ooh Lordy my,
[Repeat last phrase of preceding stanza.]


For example:

Old Ruben came to town just as the sun went down,
The shirt on his back was all he owned.
So he took a razor blade and he hid out in the shade,
And he started him a graveyard of his own.
And it's ooh Lordy me, and it's ooh Lordy my,
He started him a graveyard of his own.


Sound familiar to anyone?

--- Steve


23 Dec 01 - 08:22 AM (#615260)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Joe Offer

Yeah, Steve - it's really close to the version of Reuben's Train that's in the Digital Tradition. Take a look at what we have. If the version you have is substantially different, please post it.
Thanks.
-Joe Offer-


24 Dec 01 - 08:54 PM (#616068)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Art Thieme

Rick,

I do wish John'd tell about "Abilene"---Bob Gibson told me over and over that he'd written it.

Art


24 Dec 01 - 10:09 PM (#616085)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: CRANKY YANKEE

Same tune, different lyrics.

it's called "Ruby, are you mad at your man. Every verse ends up with
Br>RUBY, RRUUUUUUUUUUUUOOOOOOOBEEE, HONEY ARE YOU MD AT YOUR MAN

I'll try to dig the rest of the lyrics out of my head, and let you know.


25 Dec 01 - 05:52 AM (#616163)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: BlueFolk

Hm. Abilene is a Brown/Gibson/Loudermilk/Stanton song. That's all there is to say to it. Been enough talk over it.

And 'Windy & Warm'? Just the wheather. Just like that other instrumental Chet Atkins did, 'Cloudy & Cool'.


25 Dec 01 - 10:50 PM (#616373)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: JedMarum

Interesting that this thread should appear now. I've just started singing 900 Miles again - after many years. I love the song and have found audiences do too. I guess my version has evolved some, unwittingly - I have a more blues feel to it then I catch from the midi in the DT and I repeat the last musical line twice with the lyric:

And I hate to hear that lonesome whistle blow That long lonesome train whistling down.

I'm not sure if that's how I learned it or if I perverted it somewhere along the line. I do remember picking it up from a Jerry Silverman book; The Art of the Folk Blues. My guitar teacher had me working from this book when I was 10 or 11 years old - I still sing a few from those days (of course I may well have evolved a few of those ones too).


26 Dec 01 - 06:25 AM (#616451)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,hrothgar

Maybe whoever used 500 miles instead of 900 miles had a shorter attention span.


26 Dec 01 - 01:45 PM (#616567)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Art Thieme

900 Miles evokes a time and a mystique for me almost like no other song. It's a "GUY song ---a hobo song that reeks of lonliness as well as the romance of the rauks. The minor key does it for me. Minor chords set a feeling like no other blend of notes -- get me ready for the tale to be told and when the story lives up to the melody's pathos, it's just about perfect.

500 Miles, is a wimpy, non inspiring little pop time waster with a lyric that is, at best, ambiguous and unsatisfyinjg.

Lord I'm 1, lord I'm 2, lord I'm 3, lord I'm 4, lord I'm 5, lord I'm six, lord I'm seven,
Lord I'm 8, lord I'm 9, lord I'm 10, lord I'm 11...

Art Thieme


26 Dec 01 - 01:48 PM (#616569)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Art Thieme

"rauks" ought to read "rails". Should've proof read.

Art


26 Dec 01 - 05:55 PM (#616671)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Rick Fielding

Dammit, it's a wonder I've learned ANY ramblin' gamblin' hobo'in' type songs at all! You Americans have it SO easy......Here I am singin' "I'm 1357.5 kilometers From Home". Not to mention "46.2 Kilograms and whaddya get, another day older and deeper in debt". And how about "I'll put a loonie in the juke box and play that truck drivin' man"! It just ain't fair I tell ya.

Captive in Canada


26 Dec 01 - 06:57 PM (#616693)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Joe Offer

Well, Rick, when I was in Germany, we called kilometers "clicks."
-Joe Offer-


26 Dec 01 - 10:44 PM (#616805)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Art Thieme

John D. Loudermilk,

It's a treat to have you looking in here. Your stature as a songwriter is well known---and the young kids looking in here sure ought to take note. Young folks, put this man's name in a search engine and spend the next week or two reading what comes up.

Art Thieme


04 Feb 05 - 02:44 PM (#1399205)
Subject: Lyr Add: NINE HUNDRED MILES (Woody Guthrie)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

NINE HUNDRED MILES
(Woody Guthrie)
Trad., added Woody Guthrie lyrics

I am riding on this train,
There are tears in my eyes,
Try'n to read a letter from my home,
If this train runs me right,
I'll be home Saturday night,
For I'm nine hundred miles from my home.

Well this train I ride on
Is a hundred coaches long,
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles,
And the lonesome whistle call
Is mournfullest of all,
'Cause it's nine hundred miles from my home.

Chorus:
And I hate to hear that lonesome whistle blow,
It's that long lonesome train whistling down.

Well, I'll pawn you my watch,
And I'll pawn you my chain,
I'll pawn you my gold diamond ring,
For if this train runs me right,
I'll be home Saturday night,
'Cause I'm nine hundred miles from my home.

I am walking down this track,
I've got tears in my eyes,
I'm tryin' to read a letter from my home;
And if this train runs me right
I'll be home Saturday night,
'Cause I'm nine hundred miles from my home.

Well this train I ride on
Is a hundred coaches long,
You can hear the whistle blow a million miles;
And if this train runs me right
I'll see my woman Saturday night,
'Cause I'm nine hundred miles from my home.

I will pawn you my wagon,
I will pawn you my team,
I will pawn you my watch and my chain;
And if this train runs me right
I'll be home Saturday night,
'Cause I'm nine hundred miles from my home.

Pp. 30-31, with music, "steady rhythm." "Additional lyrics by Woody Guthrie Based on a traditional song." Copyright 1958 Sanga Music, Inc., New York, N. Y.
"Woody Guthrie Folk Songs," 1963, Ludlow Music Inc., New York, N. Y.


04 Feb 05 - 06:21 PM (#1399449)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Janice in NJ

As with many of Woody's songs, it's nearly impossible to separate the traditional base from Woody's own additions. Think of his versions of Lonsome Valley and Gypsy Davy for two other examples. An even better example is how Woody transformed John Hardy into Johnny Hard, not only adding his own text but also giving the title a sexual meaning that was absent from the traditional version.


22 Apr 10 - 12:34 PM (#2892138)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST

Q, those are not the correct lyrics


22 Apr 10 - 11:30 PM (#2892509)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,leeneia

I went to YouTube to hear what 'Reuben's Train' sounds like.

Here's a link of a group wearing suits (!?) and doing the tune somewhere in Scandinavia. Anybody have any idea what festival that was?

suits


I didn't understand why they referred to it as Country SM until they started singing.


07 Sep 10 - 03:22 PM (#2981740)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,Joe Moyes

In 1987 a song by the proclaimers with that same title has been quite popular in other people's recording standards. Wouldn't it be good to hear the proclaimers do a version of hedy wests song? When i first heard her song it was by Bobby Bear, but i Knew that he wasn't the first to record this, that was the macenzie trio from around 1961. But the one that we are more familiar with today is the version recorded by the brothers four.


07 Sep 10 - 04:47 PM (#2981794)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,Doc John

Is the distance measuring guage on a car we call a 'mileometer', called a 'kilometerometer' in those metric places - or perhaps a 'kilometersquared'?


08 Sep 10 - 12:25 AM (#2982074)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: LadyJean

In the summer of 1971, I went to camp with a young lady who grew up to be Jennifer Armstrong Clark. She and her friend Anne Jackson taught us this one:

Now you've all been in town when Old Rueben he come round
You can hear the whistle blow five hundred miles.

Old Rueben, Old Rueben, Old Rueben, where you been so long.
Old Rueben, Old Rueben, Old Rueben, ain't got no home, got no home.

Took Old Rueben into the shade and I took my razor blade and I started me a graveyard of my own.
Old Rueben, Old Rueben, Old Rueben, where you been so long.
Old Rueben Old Rueben, Old Rueben, ain't got now home, got no home.

If you miss the train I'm on, you will know that I am gone.
You can hear the whistle blow five hundred miles, five hundred miles.
Old Rueben, old Rueben etc.

The song is in a minor key, which makes the verse about the razor blade extra creepy.


25 Jun 11 - 05:57 PM (#3176424)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,dave

Well, I've been researching the origins of this song for a long time after I heard Debbie McLatchey sing it at Conwy (Wales) festival in 2009. She said it dated back from the shamefull dark ages after the American civil war that is not generally talked about in American history. Apparently, the winning side (the North) placed their army in the south to protect the blacks after they got independence. After about 2 years they were recalled and then the white southerners took their retribution on the old ex slaves carrying out all sorts of atrocities on them. Reuben was a fictitional character that rode a train that collected all the ex slaves and took them north for protection. This latest post shows a leaning to the origins exactly. Thank you


25 Jun 11 - 07:06 PM (#3176462)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,dave

For 2009, read 2007! Doesn't time fly when you're having fun?


18 Nov 11 - 05:32 PM (#3259612)
Subject: Lyr Add: 500 MILES / FIVE HUNDRED MILES (Hedy West
From: PHJim

I disagree with Art's post above. Some of the versions of five hundred miles by folk groups and Elvis may fall into his category, but I love Hedy's version, the first one that I and many of the 60s folkies ever heard.

FIVE HUNDRED MILES
As recorded by Hedy West

1. If you miss the train I'm on, you will know that I am gone.
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles.
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

2. If my honey said so, I'd railroad no more.
I'd sidetrack my engine and go home,
And go home, and go home, and go home, and go home.
I'd sidetrack my engine and go home.

3. Lord, I'm one, Lord, I'm two, Lord, I'm three, Lord, I'm four,
Lord, I'm five hundred miles away from home,
Away from home, away from home, away from home, away from home.
Lord, I'm five hundred miles away from home.

4. I told my little letter just as plain as I could tell her
That she'd better come along and go with me,
Go with me, go with me, go with me, go with me.
She'd better come along and go with me.

5. My clothes are all worn and my shoes are all torn.
Lord, I can't make a livin' this-a-way,
This-a-way, this-a-way, this-a-way, this-a-way.
Lord, I can't make a livin' this-a-way.

6. If this train runs all right, I'll be home tomorrow night,
For I'm comin' down the line on Number Nine,
Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine,
For I'm comin' down the line on Number Nine.

7. Not a shirt on my back, not a penny to my name,
Lord, I can't go back home this-a-way,
This-a-way, this-a-way, this-a-way, this-a-way.
Lord, I can't go back home this-a-way.

8. If you miss...


18 Nov 11 - 06:17 PM (#3259644)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,999

I'm going by a fiftyish-year-old hearing, but isn't that also the version done by PP+M?


18 Nov 11 - 09:28 PM (#3259737)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,leeneia

Hmm. A lot of these sound like songs to slit your wrists by. However, the New Christy Minstrels recorded a '900 Miles' which racketed and clicked along. Not happy exactly, but not listless, either.

You see me goin down this track
and I'm never comin back.
Next time you see me, I'll be home.
Make my bed and light the lights,
I'll be with you Monday night,
cause I'm 900 miles from my home.

Heeeeear that whistle blo-ow.
Can't you hear that whistle blow?
======
999, I agree with you that PP+M sang that version.

I've been lonely, I've been blue,
darlin I've been true to you....


19 Nov 11 - 01:03 AM (#3259784)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: PHJim

Yes, I think most of the folkie groups, P,P&M, The Kingston Trio, The Brothers Four, even Elvis sang the If you miss...,Lord I'm One... and Not a shirt... verses, but Hedy is the only one I've heard sing the other verses.


19 Nov 11 - 01:06 AM (#3259785)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: PHJim

Here's Hedy:
Hedy West's 500 Miles


19 Nov 11 - 07:39 AM (#3259872)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Pete Jennings

Bert Jansch did a great version of 900 Miles on his LP "It Don't Bother Me", released in 1965(Transatlantic TRA 132). It's still available in CD form from Amazon here.


19 Nov 11 - 10:58 AM (#3259943)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,leeneia

thanks for the link, PHJim. that's the only version I've ever heard where the singer is an engineer.


19 Nov 11 - 06:00 PM (#3260192)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: The Sandman

i enjoyed hedys version of 500 miles, i love her singing , i would have loved to have met her


04 Jan 13 - 11:57 AM (#3461264)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST

I love Hedy West's version. Does anyone know what she means by "I tole my little letter just as plain as I could tell her???
Anne Hamilton


04 Jan 13 - 12:05 PM (#3461268)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST,SirCoughsalot

I read somewhere that Hedy West got the song from her grandmother, who said that Hedy "jazzed it up" and ruined it. Maybe the song her grandmother sang was 900 Miles or a version of it? All the songs are clearly related. Personally, I like them both. I have heard people play a "Train 45" that sounded exactly like Reuben's Train, but they insisted it was different. Woody Guthrie's Train 45 is noticably different. I've heard a verse in Reuben's Train that goes: "I'm 900 miles from my wife and my child," etc. Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man? is credited to Cousin Emmy, same tune.


04 Jan 13 - 03:03 PM (#3461340)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Don Firth

Looking through my heap of vinyls, I have a 10" LP, Folkways, of Cisco Houston doing railroad songs. Great stuff! It includes "900 Miles."

Don Firth


04 Jan 13 - 03:07 PM (#3461344)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Don Firth

When Peter Paul and Mary's recording of "500 Miles" came out, I felt that it was kind of slicked up and wimpy compared to the more rough and ready "900 Miles" as sung by Cisco Houston.

Don Firth


28 Mar 18 - 11:25 PM (#3913751)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: GUEST

If you dont believe im gone
watch this train ive caught on
Lord im 900 miles away from home

Ive been trying to find this song and your lyrics run close to it what is it called?


29 Mar 18 - 11:55 AM (#3913869)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Tattie Bogle

My favourite version was the French one, sung by Richard Anthony, "J'entends siffler le train". Not a direct translation of Hedy West's song, and no mention of kilometres!


29 Mar 18 - 03:58 PM (#3913924)
Subject: RE: 900 Miles/500 miles
From: Tattie Bogle

Et voici! J'entends siffler le train