Friday Factory Tune: Promised Land

With the Highway Bill reauthorization coming up, today’s tune pays tribute to cross-country travels via Greyhound, rail, and air as Chuck Berry leaves his home in Norfolk, Virginia, to head out to the promised land. From the WWII-shipyards, which brought rural whites and blacks to the city, ambitions spread outwards. He makes it through the South, makes it to Houston and …

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.

It’s really the first rock ‘n roll song about intermodel shipping.

(Don’t know the provenance of the video. It appears to be about ’67, ’68. And here’s Dave Edmunds doing the same song on German TV, early ’80s. And much later. Context matters.)

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