“2000 Miles” was released in November of 1983 and would later be included on the band’s 1984 album Learning to Crawl. It was the first single and album by the new Pretenders line-up reconstituted after the deaths of Pete Farndon and James Honeyman-Scott. New members Robbie McIntosh and Malcolm Foster joined Chrissie Hynde and Martin Chambers to fill out the quartet.
For this issue I am going to highlight a song which is not a traditional Christmas song and may not necessarily even be a specifically Christmas song at all for that matter. It does mention Christmas in the lyrics and seems to be even more poignant during the holidays, but it is a song that I can listen to any time of year. The song I am celebrating is “2000 Miles” by The Pretenders.
In June of 1982, The Pretenders held a band meeting which resulted in the dismissal of Farndon due to his drug use [he’d die in April of 1983 drowning in a bathtub due to passing out after a heroin overdose]. Ironically, just two days after Farndon was kicked out of the group, Honeyman-Scott was found dead of heart failure caused by cocaine intolerance at just the age of 25. Many interpret the lyrics of “2000 Miles” to refer to a long-distance longing by two forlorn lovers who are forced to be apart and especially miss each other over the holidays. That is somewhat accurate, but it is reported that the song (which was written by Hynde) is really about missing Honeyman-Scott, her deceased band mate and friend. It was also the last song written and recorded for the Learning to Crawl album, even though the single was released about two months before the album. Here is the music video for “2000 Miles” by The Pretenders…
Anybody who has ever missed anybody can likely identify with this song (though the video is admittedly a little odd). This song always seems to get my emotions stirring for some reason. Maybe it is Chrissie Hynde’s wonderfully haunting vocal. Maybe it is the simple melody or unassuming lyrics. Here are the lyrics to “2000 Miles” by The Pretenders…
He’s gone two thousand miles It’s very far The snow is falling down Gets colder day by day I miss you
The children will sing
He’ll be back at Christmastime
In these frozen and silent nights Sometimes in a dream you appear Outside under the purple sky Diamonds in the snow sparkle Our hearts were singing It felt like Christmastime
Two thousand miles Is very far through the snow I’ll think of you Wherever you go He’s gone two thousand miles It’s very far The snow is falling down Gets colder day by day I miss you
I can hear people singing
It must be Christmastime
I hear people singing
It must be Christmastime
Maybe it is a combination of all those ingredients and more. Whatever the reason, I just know that I love this song and especially so over the holidays. The single never officially charted in the U.S. back then, but it did reach #15 in the UK. The Pretenders would later record another of my beloved holiday hymns when their version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was included on the 1987 charity album A Very Special Christmas. I love that holiday classic no matter who sings it, but The Pretenders’ version is one of my favorites probably for many of the same reasons I love “2000 Miles”. And, knowing me, it certainly doesn’t hurt that they are both from the great decade of the ’80s.