When You’re a Long, Long Way From Home

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page originally published on 25 March 2013; latest edit: 26 October 2019

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When You’re a Long, Long Way From Home (m. George W. Meyer, w. Sam M. Lewis)

First published and recorded in 1914, this song has evidently had an intermittent recording history. The following recordings are included in this page, except those with the recording artist highlighted in red:

  • 1914Henry Burr – recorded in Camden, New Jersey, on 17 August 1914; issued on the 10″ 78 rpm single Victor 17632, b/w “In the Palace of Dreams”
  • 1914 — Joan Sawyer’s Persian Garden Orchestra – issued in 1915 on Columbia A5642, as the B-side of “Valse Boston (from “Les Millions d’Arlequin”)” — according to 78discography.com, both sides were recorded in October 2014
  • 1916Kirkby and Cove – issued in June 1916 on the 78 rpm single (UK) The Winner 2981, as the B-side of “A Broken Doll”
  • 1917Will Strong – issued in January 1917 on the 78 rpm single Zonophone 1723, b/w “If I Could Only Turn the Clock Back a Year”
  • 1940 — Bing Crosby with the Paradise Island Trio – issued on Decca 3477, as the B-side of “When I Lost You” (Irving Berlin)
  • 1942 — Harry James and his Orchestra, vocal: Jerry Stuart – recorded on 19 March 1942; issued on 8 May 1942 on the 10″ 78 rpm single Columbia 36579, c/w “Strictly Sentimental” (Bennie Benjamin, Eddie Seiler, Edgar Battle, Sol Marcus)
  • 1942 — Hal McIntyre and his Orchestra: recorded on 2 June 1942; issued on Victor 27942, b/w “Play Number Forty Nine”
  • c.1942-1945 — Mildred Bailey
  • 1950 — Kay Starr — issued on the 78 rpm single Capitol 1152, as the B-side of “Texas Song (Is There Anything Wrong with Texas?)”
  • 1951 — The Orioles — recorded on 20 April 1951; issued in May 1951 on Jubilee 5057, as the B-side of “Would I Love You (Love You, Love You)”
  • 1951 — Sonny Til and the Orioles — live in Chicago (two recordings)
  • 1956 — Lizzie Miles — final track on the LP Moans and Blues, Cook Records Cook01182, released in January 1956
  • 1958Don Fox (British pop singer) — issued in September 1958 on the 45 rpm single (UK) Decca F 11057, b/w “She Was Only Seventeen” (Marty Robbins)
  • 1961 — The Buffalo Bills: from side one of their 1961 LP Home Is Where the Heart Is, Columbia CS 8384 (Stereo), Columbia CL 1584 (Mono)
  • 1983 — Doug Skinner: from the 1983 stage play comedy film The Regard of Flight (review at unseenfilms.blogspot.com), featuring Bill Irwin, Michael O’Connor, and Doug Skinner
  • 2014 — Rajhans Ensemble, KH De Zeegalm & Apollo Sluis (Hans Vermeersch: director, violin), with vocal by Chantal Dejaeger — performed live during the Indian Army in Flanders Fields 1914 -1918 Memorial Concert on Armistice Day, 11 November 2014, at the Culture Centre Scharpoord Knokke, Belgium

It seems odd to me that the song has evidently been recorded by relatively few top artists. Also, considering the excellence of the 1951 versions by the Orioles, I’ve been surprised to discover no evidence that other R&B vocal harmony groups have recorded it.

Helen Humes, while recounting her youth in a chapter on her in the book The World of Count Basie by Stanley Dance, 1980, says on p. 130 that “When You’re a Long, Long Way From Home” was the first song she ever sang in public.

1914 When You're a Long, Long Way from Home-Henry Burr-Victor 17632-A

Henry Burr — recorded in Camden, New Jersey, on 17 August 1914; issued on the 10″ 78 rpm single Victor 17632, b/w “In the Palace of Dreams”

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1915 When You're a Long, Long Way From Home-Joan Sawyer's Persian Garden Orchestra-Columbia A5642 (1a)

Joan Sawyer’s Persian Garden Orchestra — issued in 1915 on Columbia A5642, as the B-side of “Valse Boston (from “Les Millions d’Arlequin”)”according to 78discography.com, both sides were recorded in October 1914

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1916-When-You-re-a-Long-Long-Way-From-Home-(Winner-2981)-Kirby-and-Cove-1

Kirkby and Cove — issued in June 1916 on the 78 rpm single (UK) The Winner 2981, as the B-side of “A Broken Doll” The B-side label above credits the recording to “Kirkby and Cove.” However, 45Worlds.com credits the side to “Kirkby and Beresford.” The Winner was a United Kingdom-based record label founded in 1912. “Kirkby” is Stanley Kirkby, and “Cove” is presumably Harry Cove. The A-side of The Winner 2981 is given as “Broken Doll” at the 45Worlds.com page linked to above, while what seems to be the same recording issued on other labels is titled “A Broken Doll” elsewhere on 45Worlds.com, at Discogs.com, and at Michael Thomas’ website (mgthomas.co.uk).

recording presently unavailable

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1937-Waikiki-Wedding-Bing-Crosby-and-dancersBing Crosby_1_bf

Bing Crosby with the Paradise Island Trio — recorded on 20 July 1940, and issued in 1940 on the 78 rpm single Decca 3477, as the B-side of “When I Lost You” (Irving Berlin)

Paradise Island Trio:
Sam Koki — steel guitar
Russ Magnus – vibraphone
Erwin Yeo – organ

According to the Bing Crosby Discography at jazzdiscography.com, Der Bingle had previously performed the song for radio broadcasts on 8 December 1938 and 19 January 1939.

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1942 When You're a Long, Long Way From Home-Harry James-sheet-1a1942 When You're a Long, Long Way From Home-Harry James-Columbia 36579

Harry James and his Orchestra, vocal: Jimmy Saunders — recorded on 19 March 1942; issued on 8 May 1942 on the 10″ 78 rpm single Columbia 36579, c/w “Strictly Sentimental” (Bennie Benjamin, Eddie Seiler, Edgar Battle, Sol Marcus)

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1942 When You're a Long, Long Way From Home-Hal McIntyre-Victor 27492 (50p)-d15

Hal McIntyre and his Orchestra, vocal: Jerry Stuart — recorded on 2 June 1942; issued on Victor 27942, b/w “Play Number Forty Nine”

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Mildred Bailey — The recording is listed at a number of “music of WW II” sites, but I’ve been unable to properly identify it, or even date it. Bailey interrupts the song midway to promote War Bonds. The image used by the video creator is from the cover of the 18 track 1990 Rhino label compilation Songs That Got Us Through World War II, featuring WW II era recordings of assorted songs by various popular artists, which includes neither this recording nor any recording of “When You’re a Long, Long Way From Home.” The song is also not included in Volume 2 of the Rhino series, released in 1994.

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Kay Starr — issued in 1950 on the 78 rpm single Capitol 1152, as the B-side of “Texas Song (Is There Anything Wrong with Texas?)”

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The Orioles — recorded on 20 April 1951; issued in May 1951 on Jubilee 5057, as the B-side of “Would I Love You (Love You, Love You)”

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Sonny Til and the Orioles — live in Chicago, 1951 (two recordings)

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(below) “take 2”

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Lizzie Miles — from the LP Moans and Blues, Cook Records Cook01182, released in January 1956

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The Buffalo Bills — from their 1961 LP Home Is Where the Heart Is, Columbia CS 8384 (Stereo), Columbia CL 1584 (Mono)

Discogs.com says: “The Buffalo Bills is the Barbershop Harmony Society’s 1950 International Quartet Champion.”

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Doug Skinner — from the 1983 stage play comedy film The Regard of Flight (review at unseenfilms.blogspot.com), featuring Bill Irwin, Michael O’Connor, and Doug Skinner

In this clip, Skinner introduces the song, in which he accompanies himself on ukulele, as the “second homesickness song.”

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Rajhans Ensemble, KH De Zeegalm & Apollo Sluis (Hans Vermeersch: director, violin) with vocal by Chantal Dejaeger — performed live during the Indian Army in Flanders Fields 1914 -1918 Memorial Concert on Armistice Day, 11 November 2014, at the Culture Centre Scharpoord Knokke, Belgium

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