Today’s selection is Chrissie Hynde’s 2000 Miles, which I love beyond words, and is the only song from the holiday canon that I allow myself to listen to year round. And that’s OK, I tell myself, because it wasn’t meant to be a Christmas song when Hynde was writing it. She only discovered once she had finished that it was one.
The piece was originally recorded by Hynde’s Pretenders as a single in 1983. Along with their hit Back on the Chain Gang, 2000 Miles was written as part of Hynde’s process of mourning James Honeyman-Scott, the band’s guitarist who died of a drug overdose the previous year. The songs titular distance doesn’t actually describe the physical mileage separating two lovers, as many mistakenly believe, but rather the unfathomable chasm between ourselves and those loved ones who have gone before us.
Quite a few artists have covered the song, including KT Tunstall, Coldplay, Lissie, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a terrible version of the song, though many are simply okay. But to my mind the single greatest version of 2000 Miles ever recorded, by far, is the 1995 cover of the song by the Pretenders themselves. Recorded for the album Isle of View, it’s a live acoustic performance that features an accompanying string quartet.
To this day, the way Hynde phrases the line “I miss you” in the final verse of this version will still bring tears to my eyes, if I let it.
 Confession: I had owned and listened to Isle of View for about a year when, one day while I was making dinner, my wife asked me what I was listening to. As I answered, I realized for the first time ever that the title is a pun. Had I never actually spoke the title out loud, I don’t think I would have ever seen it.