Hey Gavin,

I came back for another listen. I listened to the chorus several times. There are some folk songs that really don't need a strong lifting chorus, but IMO, this one does due to its sad/slower verse movement. Having a more lifting repeated melody in your chorus would achieve this: Here is one example:

PC intro chorus line
lifting line 1
lifting line 2
neutral resolving line 3
final resolve (thousand miles) 4

Now I'm going back to read other comments----wow, you have a lot of comments here to dissect). I see that Vic, Niteshift, & a few others hit on my thoughts, somewhat.

Beautiful lyrics will not be heard as they should, without a well structured "melody train;" lyrics are very important, but are the "passengers" on that train. When you have the lyrics first like you afore mentioned, it can be hard to separate or augment those lyrics, but sometimes it is required for melody structure--and that is part of our art as songwriters and why lyricists and music composers sometimes cannot agree. You are very close here to having a great song. Let the verses tell the story, let the chorus drive the theme home, rather than continue with too much detail. Songs evolve as we are writing them due to their work in progress needs. But always keep in mind that the new listener will listen without a clue, so the music needs to capture them within 30-40 seconds IMO, else wonderful lyrics won't be heard.

I really like the overall lyrics/melody and tenderness of this song. Having a story-line that's not easy to "get" the first spin is fine with me and can make a song intriguing. Having a strong chorus expounding the theme however, will capture the listener's interest and allow them to sympathize/empathize and focus more on the verse meanings, or even relate them to their own nostalgic or tragic circumstances.

I'm hoping you take my thoughts as complementing and sharing, rather as negative--if I didn't like the song, I wouldn't spend this much time here--and what I say is JMO from my perspective, but if you feel so inclined, experiment with the chorus melody & structure. I've had songs written for a couple of years that I've later tweaked for the better. (If we were famous--we couldn't do that, it would be too late, sometimes with released music, they'd love to change something but cannot)!"