Trail mix tape

Several years ago I posted about the distance 10,000 miles, which occurs in several songs. I suggested that it’s the archetypal long distance because it is the furthest away (in nautical miles) one can travel on Earth. (Presumably it came into use after long-distance sailing became common.) I mentioned that A space oddity has the distance 100,000 miles, which is less than half-way to the moon.

This morning a colleague mentioned that today is Trail Mix Day. I said in a group email that I was going to make a selection of songs and call it a trail mix tape (not an original joke), and suggested These boots are made for walking, Over hill, over dale, Climb every mountain, I’m gonna be (500 miles), 500 miles away from home and 10,000 miles. I pondered what longer distances are mentioned in songs. After I sent that email, I also thought about Fly me to the moon and The final countdown (“We’re heading for Venus”). Then a colleague replied with 2000 light years from home, which I topped with Across the universe, Stairway to heaven and Highway to hell (though those don’t mention actual distances). 

Apropos the last two, there are several cartoons with two men wearing a Led Zeppelin and AC/DC t-shirt respectively. One version has the Led Zep fan saying “We split ways here”.

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5 thoughts on “Trail mix tape

  1. Interesting present and past posts (and I also used to be on the choralnet list back in the day).

    Given that Australia and the UK are on the metric system, why so many songs about miles? Why didn’t The Who do “I Can See for Kilometers,” for example? Other than in Space Oddity (which probably uses miles because the astronaut would have been assumed by default to be an American), do miles nostalgically invoke a bygone era? Or do they afford a degree of poetic naturalism?

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    • Thanks. Some songs date from before decimalisation, but there are a number of set expressions eg missed by an inch, a miss is as good as a mile etc. Also ‘kilometres’ is hard to fit convincingly into a meter or lyric (2.54 centimetre-worm, measuring the marigolds). A million miles an hour sounds figurative, but a million kilometres an hour sound literal.
      An organ builder once showed me the preliminary brochure for a major organ he refurbished about the time Australia was switching to metric. The stop list included things like Open diapason 2.88 m, Octave 1.44 m. He persuaded them not to publish that.

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    • Thanks. I have no idea how I missed thinking about a million miles. When I read your comment, I immediately thought of the classic Mammy (I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles). Google easily found 26 with that in the title, usually (a/one) million miles away/from love, but also Million miles per hour and 93 million miles (that is, from the earth to the sun (or vice versa)).
      I suspect most of these use the distance figuratively. The moon is 1/4 million miles away, so 1 million miles away is nowhere in particular, and nowhere near Venus (26 million).

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  2. Pingback: A new unit of hearing loss – the Jagger | Never Pure and Rarely Simple

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