It’s that time of year when California-esque guitar jangles feel like Christmas bell jingles in this 80s festive favourite by The Pretenders.
This is indeed a Christmas song, but it’s also a travel one, in that there’s a pining for someone across the miles. 2000 to be exact. ‘It’s very far’, singer Chrissie Hynde informs us early on.
The Scene in 2000 miles
It’s snowing, she misses him, but she hears the children sing that he’ll be back at Christmas time. Who’s children? Hers? Or are they the all-seeing oracle children that magically appear this time of year, predicting the future through the medium of choiring?
Either way, the scene is set, she dreams about him, she looks outside longingly and sees the diamonds in the snow sparkle. In the video she characterises the sparkles with a coquettish blink of her glistening eyes. Other band members dress as polar bears and jingle icicle bells or sport Santa Claus outfits. And the distant lover, we are to presume, is the worker we see in a drilling setting over yonder, attempting perhaps to get to her through the ice.
Things become a bit more emotive when she announces that our hearts sing it must be Christmas time. Despite the distance, hearts are connected. This is significant. Especially right now when many of us can’t be together this Christmas, separated for reasons outside our control. It might not be the same as being together physically, but the love exists nonetheless. It would be the same for travellers at any time of the year, estranged from loved ones, contending with long-distance relationships.
With technology as it is, we have the ability to constantly be in touch if we want. But this doesn’t make up for the loss of tangibility, the melancholy of absence, the longing thoughts of a detached loved one. Perhaps the most moving part of the song comes when she sings the line, ‘2000 miles is very far through the snow, I’ll think of you, wherever you go.’
We hear the chorus again and she tells us she can now hear people, as opposed to children, singing that it must be Christmas time. That said, we do hear what sounds like the oracle-choir harmonising in the background. Unfortunately, their earlier prediction appears to be wrong; the song ends before the lover makes it back through the snow.
Moral of 2000 miles
Yes there is an underlying pathos but this bittersweet song still retains a festive magic. There is a reminder that love knows no distance. There is also an added layer of symbolism at the moment. The snow can be seen as a representation of the virus – and both will be gone later in the new year, making travel, and living, possible again. 2000 miles is less than five hours on a plane.