Anthology of American Folk Music

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January 14, 2006



I agree, 50 Miles of elbow Room by F.W McGhee is a ripping piece of gospel music. It is based on the description of the new Jerusalem as seen by Jesus' disciple John in the vision recorded in Revelation 21:9ff. The Bible supplies the overall dimensions of the four-square city, but the gates being 100 miles wide is pure poetic license on the songwriter's part! The 'abundant entrance' spoken of is a reference to the King James version of the Bible's translation of 2 Peter 1:11, which in more contemporary English reads, 'there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.' The song takes these Bible references and uses them to express the hope of all who have confessed their sin and asked for the forgiveness that Jesus died to win for them, that he has prepared a place for them in his eternal kingdom.

Wayne Warner

While researching for a biography on Evangelist Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924) I discovered that one of her favorite gospel songs was "Fifty Miles of Elbow Room." Now I see that it is popular on certain web sites. I just learned yesterday that Marv and Rindy Ross(Quarterflash fame of the 1980s) have recorded it with their The Trail Band out of Portland, OR (on Immigrant Dreams CD). My biography on Sister Etter is "Maria Woodworth-Etter, For Such a Time as This" and published by Bridge-Logos.

Bob Magill Jr.

Fifty Miles of Elbow Room was also recorded by Turk Murphy in his 50's LP "Turk Murphy at the Round Table"; he does it in a Dixie jazz version, quite upbeat. The lyrics are very different from those above, however.

Sam Crawford

Norman and Nancy Blake recorded the song on their album "Blind Dog". They perform it in an old time bluegrass style with guitars only. It's the only version I've ever heard.

Norman Black

Where can I buy sheet music of the tune "Fifty Miles of Elbow Room": preferable the tune recorded by Iris DeMent. If not available, then the tune recorded by the Carter Family?

Robin Vining

There's also a lovely modern version by violinist/singer
Carla Kihlstedt (of Tin Hat/Sleepytime Gorilla Museum)
On her album 2 Foot Yard.

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