“Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home (A Wild and Reckless Hobo; The Railroad Bum)”


The reckless hobo cannot stay still; the sound of a train keeps calling him. (He may become involved with various girls, but even they cannot hold him.)


I question the attribution of this to Rodgers, as it seems to take quite a few forms. It seems more likely that he used floating verses in composing his song, "Waiting for a Train." - PJS

You'll note that I didn't say I believed Rodgers wrote it -- note that it was being parodied around 1900 in "A Thousand Miles Away." Best guess is that he created a recension which became fairly popular. - RBW

Paul Stamler suggests that "The Danville Girl" subtext deserves separate listing, noting that "It has certain verses that set it apart, including the'You bet your life she's out of sight/She wore those Danville curls' and 'She wore her hair on the back of her head/Like high-toned people do.' It's also got floating verses, including some from "Gambling Man...." The difficulty, for me at least, is that none of these are characteristic of the song; I've seen versions without either verse. Thus, while the extremes are different, there is no good way to draw a line. We could simply call all texts which mention Danville "The Danville Girl" -- but there are otherwise identical versions which omit that key name. Plus, the Brown "Wild and Reckless Hobo" text is certainly a "Danville Girl" version, but Laws lists it here. - RBW, PJS

From Alan Lomax's notes to PeteSeeger02, "There are stanzas in this one from so many different hobo songs, sung in so many different ways, that one might call this the master hobo song. Actually I had some hand in mixing the verses together in _American Ballads and Folk Songs_ (Macmillan, 1934), from which this version comes." Can we say, "smoking gun"? - PJS

I wonder if that might explain the Danville Girl mixup, too.... - RBW

Naw. That was already going on when Dock Boggs recorded the song in 1927. - PJS

When I finally read Cohen's notes on this, I thought seriously about sweeping out all the previous notes, since it includes a complex analysis of sources. But I finally decided that Cohen, while authoritative, is not definitive. His opinion is that there were originally three separate songs, which he entitles "Wild and Reckless Hobo," "Waiting for a Train," an "Danville Girl." But he admits so much mixture that drawing sharp lines is impossible. Lumping is generally against our policy, but when splitting forces notes to every version, I'll do lumping. - RBW

Same tune

  • "A Thousand Miles Away" (File: PFS213)

Cross references


  • Dock Boggs, "Danville Girl" (Brunswick 132B, 1927); (on Boggs2, BoggsCD1)
  • [Richard] Burnett & [Leonard] Rutherford, "Ramblin' Reckless Hobo" (Columbia 15240-D, 1928; rec. 1927; on BurnRuth01. KMM)
  • Vernon Dalhart, "Wild and Reckless Hobo" (Brunswick 2942, 1925)
  • Morgan Denmon, "Wild and Reckless Hobo" (Velvet Tone 2366-V, 1930); "The Wild and Reckless Hobo" (OKeh 45327, 1929)
  • Dixon Brothers, "The Girl I Left in Danville" (Montgomery Ward M-7337, c. 1937/Bluebird B-7674, 1938)
  • Bill Baker w. Bob Miller's Hinky-Dinkers, "Wild and Reckless Hobo" (Brunswick 445/Supertone S-2059, 1930)
  • New Lost City Ramblers, "Danville Girl" (on NLCR06)
  • Pine Mountain Ramblers [or Virginia Mountain Boomers], "Ramblin' Reckless Hobo" (Champion 15610, 1928; Supertone 9305, 1929)
  • Charlie Powers, "The Wild and Reckless Hobo" (CYL: Edison 5131, n.d.)
  • George Reneau, "Wild and Reckless Hoboes" (Vocalion 14999, 1925)
  • Pete Seeger, "Danville Girl" (on PeteSeeger02, PeteSeegerCD01)


  1. Laws H2, "Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home (A Wild and Reckless Hobo; The Railroad Bum) "
  2. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 355-366, "Waiting for a Train/Wild and Reckless Hobo" (2 texts plus a print from Richard Burnett's songbook and a peculiar "Wabash Cannonball" mix, 2 tune)
  3. Randolph 836, "A Wild and Reckless Hobo" (1 short text, 1 tune)
  4. Sandburg, pp. 456-457, "Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home" (1 text, 1 tune, which from its form appears to go here although the plot is somewhat different; the singer misses the true love who abandoned him)
  5. Davis-More 29, pp. 221-228, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (3 texts plus a fragment, 2 tunes; the two longest texts, AA and DD, both contain floating material, in the case of "D" probably from this piece)
  6. BrownII 30, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (4 texts, 5 excerpts, 1 fragment, plus mention of two more; the final text, M, probably combined with this piece)
  7. BrownIII 359, "The Wild and Reckless Hobo" (1 text); 361, "Waiting for a Train" (1 short text)
  8. Hudson 111, pp. 250-251, "The Railroad Bum" (1 text)
  9. Fuson, pp. 128-129, "Ten Thousand Miles From Home" (1 text)
  10. Cambiaire, pp. 3-4, "A Wild and Reckless Hobo" (1 text); p. 101, "The Railroad Bum" (1 text, which seems to be mixed with other material)
  11. MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 107-108, "A Wild and Reckless Hobo" (1 text. Same source as Cambiaire's, though with differences in presentation)
  12. Lomax-AFSB, pp. 28-30, "Ten Thousand Miles from Home" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  13. Ohrlin-HBT 42, "Sam's 'Waiting for a Train'" (1 text, 1 tune)
  14. Silber-FSWB, p. 54, "Danville Girl" (1 text)
  15. Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 130, "At the Jail" (2 texts, 1 tune; the result looks to me to be a mix between this and "Logan County Jail," though it's one of those vague cases....)
  17. Roud #699
  18. BI, LH02


Author: (credited to Jimmie Rodgers by John Greenway)
Earliest date: 1925 (recording, George Reneau)
Found in: US(Ap,MW,So,SE)