Wednesday , February 21 2024
Rediscovering Chuck Berry's classic single "Promised Land"

Re-Discovering the Promised Land

I have been a fan of AMG ( for a long while. It has some wonderful biographical information and generally has some excellent music reviews by artists of all genres. I was web surfing last night and while on, I was reading a survey by Tom Erlewine (AMG editor) [HERE]. Erlewine listed “Promised Land” by Chuck Berry among the most perfect singles of all time.

I have always considered the song among Berry’s best (and that is saying someting). But I have 9,959 songs on my iPod, so I had not listened to the song in two halves of forever. At Erlewine’s ‘suggestion,’ I queued up “Promised Land” on my iPod. It was almost like discovering rock and roll for the first time. The classic Chuck Berry guitar intro, a vintage Berry guitar solo, great piano by Johnnie Johnson, and a wonderful story told with clever lyrics- all under 3 minutes. That just isn’t done anymore.

As I listened to the song on repeat, I realized how happy I was to have stumbled onto Erlewine’s article and it made me think about how cool it is to be able to share favorite songs and artists and albums with other people.

I hope that’s what I am doing right now:

“I left my home in norfolk virginia,
California on my mind.
Straddled that greyhound, rode him past raleigh,
On across caroline.

Stopped in charlotte and bypassed rock hill,
And we never was a minute late.
We was ninety miles out of atlanta by sundown,
Rollin’ ’cross the georgia state.

We had motor trouble it turned into a struggle,
Half way ’cross alabam,
And that ’hound broke down and left us all stranded
In downtown birmingham.

Straight off, I bought me a through train ticket,
Ridin’ cross mississippi clean
And I was on that midnight flyer out of birmingham
Smoking into new orleans.

Somebody help me get out of louisiana
Just help me get to houston town.
There’s people there who care a little ’bout me
And they won’t let the poor boy down.

Sure as you’re born, they bought me a silk suit,
Put luggage in my hands,
And I woke up high over albuquerque
On a jet to the promised land.

Workin’ on a t-bone steak a la carte
Flying over to the golden state;
The pilot told me in thirteen minutes
We’d be headin’ in the terminal gate.

Swing low sweet chariot, come down easy
Taxi to the terminal zone;
Cut your engines, cool your wings,
And let me make it to the telephone.

Los angeles give me norfolk virginia,
Tidewater four ten o nine
Tell the folks back home this is the promised land callin’
And the poor boy’s on the line”

About Josh Hathaway

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