Original recorded version
Written by Australian country songwriter and performer Geoff Mack. The song is also known as I’ve Been Everywhere, Man.
Lucky Starr recorded versions of this song with British, American and New Zealand place names, all written by Geoff Mack who also wrote the later USA variation recorded by Hank Snow (1963), Johnny Cash (1996) and others.
There are numerous other variations and parodies, including a Springfield’s State version from The Simpsons episode Mobile Homer. In Australia, Telstra’s BigPond internet service used I’ve Been Everywhere in TV advertisements [YouTube].
Australian singer Lucky Starr (Leslie Morrison, b. 1940) began in rock’n’roll as Les Starr in 1957 with his band The Hepparays who released at least three singles and an EP 1959-1960. Billed on his records as a solo artist from 1960, I’ve Been Everywhere was Starr’s biggest success out of a handful of singles that charted up until 1964. He appeared in Las Vegas and other international venues while moving towards a country sound by the late 1960s. He was still touring as recently as 2022.
Lyrics (Australian version): Go to The Blog for lyrics that match the Lucky Starr recording, or click here (.pdf). The song’s Wikipedia article lists numerous place names mentioned in various versions.
Further reading: 1. In 2010-2011 Peter Harris visited every place mentioned in the song while raising money for the Fred Hollows Foundation. His blog about his travels is no longer up, but it is archived at the Internet Archive. 2. The Wikipedia entry on the song is an excellent source of information that lists many alternative versions.
Version with US place names, adapted by Geoff Mack from his original Australian version. #1 on US country charts. The lyrics to Hank Snow’s recording are at CowboyLyrics.com.
Hank Snow: country music legend, born in Canada in 1914, in the USA from the mid-1940s.
Grahame Bond, Rory O’Donaghue and Garry McDonald as Ernest, Ernie and Enzo Farrelly, suburban country and western artists, on the 1974 Polydor album Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong
The characters originated in Australian ABC-TV’s comedy series The Aunty Jack Show (1972-73) and featured in an episode of the follow-up series Wollongong the Brave (1974).
As David Overett points out, this was the other great Oz version… where the lyric line, when it got to the place names, was ‘Wollongong, Wollongong, Wollongong etc. etc.’ with the odd Dapto thrown in for good measure. (Email)
Aunty Jack Sings Wollongong was reissued in 2006 (with a second disc to accommodate bonus tracks) to coincide with a stage revival of the Aunty Jack troupe.
Popular New Zealand country singer, later known as John Grenell.
Original composer Geoff Mack wrote a version with New Zealand place names. Some sources claim the NZ lyrics on this recording were written by John Hore, but I’m unable to verify this.
Further reading: Bruce Sergent’s page on John Hore at his New Zealand music site.
This is the version heard in Choice Hotels advertisements in the US.
Australian comic singer-songwriter, painter and TV compere, famous initially for his 1960 hit, Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport. Long resident in the UK. On 1963 album Sun Arise.
Rolf Harris’s version alters a few of the placenames.
US country singer (b.1947) who had a #3 pop hit in 1970 with Rose Garden.
On their 1973 debut album Comin’ Right At Ya.
Long-running Western swing revival band, formed 1970. Founding member Lucky Oceans (b. Reuben Gosfield) now lives in Australia, where he presented the eclectic music show The Planet on Radio National.
Further reading: “Lucky Oceans at 70, reflects on a life as one of the world’s greatest pedal steel guitarists” (2021) at ABC News (Australia).
This was the prototype of I’ve Been Everywhere, written in 1959 by Geoff Mack (George Macrokanis, 1922-2017). He performed it in his stage shows before it was retitled for the recording by Lucky Starr in 1962.
Mack wrote lyrics with placenames for Britain, the USA, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany and Japan (he spoke Japanese).
References, further reading: 1. Geoff Mack himself tells the story of Swagman Rock–I’ve Been Everywhere at caricaturist Mick Joffe’s website. 2. Chronology at Australian Country Music Hall of Fame for Geoff Mack, inductee (1978). 3. Richard E. Patterson, “Geoff Mack: The man who wrote ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’, Country Music News (Canada 2000): text posted at the MaxG blog. 4. Geoff Mack article at Wikipedia. 5. Interview with Geoff Mack by Stephen Fleay at YouTube.
Thanks to Jan Baart for sharing the history.