I remember Hank Snow‘s “I’ve Been Everywhere” from back in the early Sixties when it was a number-one hit for him. It’s all about a travelin’ man who has been all over the map, and he proceeds to rapidly list all the places he’s been, many of them with colorful or odd names. But it wasn’t until I began looking into the song’s background that I discovered its fascinating history. For one thing, it originated in Australia and was then adapted for use in an amazing number of other countries.
The song was written by Aussie country singer Geoff Mack, but the first hit record belonged to his countryman, Leslie William Morrison, who performed under the stage name of Lucky Starr. In early 1962 he hit the top position on Australian record charts with his take on the song, which of course was filled with place names peculiar to Australia.
Later that same year Hank Snow had some interest in recording the song for the American and Canadian market (Snow was actually Canadian himself). But Mack, the composer, had to rewrite the lyrics with new locations to make it work, so he sat down with an atlas and proceeded to do so. The resulting song proved to be a mega-seller for Snow.
It wasn’t long before the song spread to many other countries, each with its own set of lyrics. Among them were versions for New Zealand, Great Britain, and several European countries. (You can read more about the specific lyrics for each HERE.)
In later years the song was performed by many of the big names in country and pop music, including Johnny Cash and Lynn Anderson. And finally, the ultimate salute, a version of the song made an appearance in a Simpson’s episode titled Mobile Homer. (The song is in the latter part of the video below.)