Tuesday, May 23, 2023

"500 Miles" by The Hooters

Song#:  4129
Date:  12/09/1989
Debut:  99
Peak:  97
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Folk-Rock

Pop Bits:  The Philly band's third album One Way Home would be a #27 gold seller thanks mainly to a couple of Top 15 Rock hits including the #3 "Johnny B" (#61 Pop). That LP found the band altering their sound a bit to something a shade more darker that leaned towards folk rock. For their next effort, Zig Zag, the band would amp the folk up even more and toss in some cultural and political themes. This first single was certainly a sign of their latest direction. It didn't quite ignite interest with the tune stopping at #20 Rock while barely scraping the Pop chart. A second single would fare less well and not even make the Pop chart. With those results, the LP stalled at a minor #115. It would be the band's third and last album for Columbia Records.

ReduxReview:  While I appreciate that the band recorded this as a topical political statement of sorts, I'm not sure why they chose it as the lead single from the album. While I like what they did with the tune, it wasn't going to get anywhere on the Pop chart. Maybe they thought that with some contemporary folk breaking through in the late 80s, it might catch on, especially since the band basically used a slower version of the backing rhythm they developed for "All You Zombies" (#58). While the results were haunting, there was just no way this was going to become a hit. It more or less doomed the LP and left the band looking for a new label.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is an updated version of an early 60s folk song written by American folk singer Hedy West. The origins of her song are a little sketchy, but it seems that West cobbled the tune together from melodies learned from folks in her family, which in turn could have been based on other folk songs that date back to the 1920s or even as early as the Civil War. The tune has become one of the most popular in the American folk catalog. While many artists have covered the song, only one has made a hit out of it. Country star Bobby Bare released a version in 1963. It would make it to #10 Pop/#5 Country/#4 AC. The Hooters would revisit the tune, but would add their own lyrics with a reference to the anonymous man who stood in front of the tank at the June '89 Tiananmen Square protests. Background vocals on the track were done by the famous folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary, who recorded their own take on the song for their 1962 debut album.  2) The Hooters would move over to MCA for their next album, '93's Out of Body. Neither the album nor any of its singles would reach the US charts. However, that album along with Zig Zag proved to be popular in some European countries. The albums would reach the Top 15 in Sweden and Norway with both LPs going gold in Sweden. A live album in '94 would be released in Europe only and do well there, yet it seemed that wasn't enough for the band and they would choose to go on hiatus in '95. Lead vocalist/guitarist Eric Bazilian would then write/co-write songs for Joan Osborne's 1995 debut album Relish. That LP featured Osborne's lone chart single, the #4 "One of Us," which was written by Bazilian. That song would earn Grammy nominations for Record and Song of the Year. Osborne's album would get to #9 and go triple platinum and be nominated for Album of the Year. Osborne would earn two further nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist. The Hooters would reunite in 2001 and release a new album in 2007.


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