What Is "A Thousand Miles" About? Vanessa Carlton's Hit 2002 Single, Explained

Michelle Stein - Author

Apr. 20 2021, Updated 2:21 p.m. ET

Vanessa Carlton singing 'A Thousand Miles'
Source: Vanessa Carlton/YouTube

Back in 2002, the single "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton was one of the hottest songs in the U.S. It was released as the lead single for her album "Be Not Nobody," and the song remains her biggest hit in the U.S. — as well as her only single to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 (it peaked at number number five). Fast forward to today, and "A Thousand Miles" has experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to TikTok and a new Vice documentary.

So what is the song about, anyway?

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What is "A Thousand Miles" about?

In April 2021, Vice released a documentary titled The Story of "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton nearly 20 years after the song's debut.

"This song is about a crush I had on a Juilliard student," Vanessa explained. "I would never talk to this person. I was very shy. like there is no way in god's creation that this would ever happen. And so the idea that like, you have a better chance of falling up than ever having a relationship with this person."

vanessa carlton a thousand miles
Source: Getty Images
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Who is "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton about?

Vanessa went on to add, "I can't say that person's name because they're like a famous actor, and I don't want to say it."

When asked if this mystery person knows the song is about them, Vanessa replied that they didn't.

Although Vanessa would not name the person who inspired "A Thousand Miles," there have been plenty of guesses about the identity of this secret crush.

Source: Vice/YouTube
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Vanessa's mom, Heidi Carlton, explained in the Vice documentary that her daughter wrote the instrumental opening of the "A Thousand Miles" during the summer she turned 17 in 1997. (Vanessa went on to attend Columbia University in New York City.) Now, fans have been looking at which actors studied at Juilliard around the same time she was at Columbia (as well as celebs who are roughly Vanessa's age).

Popular guesses, keeping all of these factors in mind, have included: Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Mackie, Wes Bentley, Glenn Howerton, Christian Camargo, David Conrad, Matt Keeslar, Stephen Kunken, and Alan Tudyk, according to E! Online.

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Source: Vanessa Carlton/YouTube

Vanessa Carlton came out as bisexual in 2010.

There's one major detail that many people seem to have forgotten: Vanessa identifies as bisexual.  (Vanessa came out during a performance at the Nashville Pride celebration in Tennessee in June 2010.)

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As one TikTok user trying to get to the bottom of who "A Thousand Miles" is about argued, "My friends, 'A Thousand Miles' is not a straight song."

The TikTok user (whose handle is @thebaldridges) played the beginning of the song, which starts: "Making my way downtown/walking fast, faces past and I'm homebound."

"Walking fast???? Straight people don't walk fast," the user pointed out.

Source: TikTok
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The next line of the song says: "Staring blankly ahead/Just making my way/Making a way through the crowd."

"Walking fast, staring blankly ahead ... " the TikTok user repeated, adding in the caption, "*this is queer culture*."

They went on to speculate that "A Thousand Miles" could actually be about Sara Ramirez, Rutina Wesley, or Jessica Chastain because "the timelines fit."

Unless Vanessa herself decides to confirm or deny any of the theories that are floating around out there about what (or more specifically, who) "A Thousand Miles" is about, it's difficult to tell for sure. In the meantime, fans are definitely amusing themselves playing detective!

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