Chuck Berry performs “Promised Land” On Face au Public TV show 1965.

The song was first recorded in this version by Chuck Berry in 1964 for his album St. Louis to Liverpool. Released in December, 1964, it was Berry's first single issued following his prison term for a Mann Act conviction.

YouTube CabinFeverReliever Channel
YouTube CabinFeverReliever Channel

Promised Land:

Chuck Berry ‎– Promised Land (Cover Single 1965 Cess)
Chuck Berry ‎– Promised Land (Cover Single 1965 Cess)

“Promised Land” is a song lyric written by Chuck Berry to the melody of “Wabash Cannonball”, an American folk song. The song was first recorded in this version by Chuck Berry in 1964 for his album St. Louis to Liverpool. Released in December, 1964, it was Berry’s first single issued following his prison term for a Mann Act conviction.

In the lyrics, the singer (who refers to himself as “the poor boy”) tells of his journey from Norfolk, Virginia, to the “Promised Land”, Los Angeles, California, mentioning various cities in Southern states that he passes through on his journey. It has subsequently been recorded by numerous other artists.

Chuck Berry ‎– St. Louis To Liverpool(Cover LP Chess 1964)
Chuck Berry ‎– St. Louis To Liverpool (Cover LP Chess 1964)

Berry wrote the song while in prison, and borrowed an atlas from the prison library to plot the itinerary. Describing himself as a “poor boy,” the protagonist boards a Greyhound bus in Norfolk, Virginia. that passes Raleigh, N.C., stops in Charlotte, North Carolina, and bypasses Rock Hill, South Carolina. The bus rolls out of Atlanta but breaks down, leaving him stranded in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. He then takes a train “across Mississippi clean” to New Orleans. From there, he goes to Houston, where “the people there who care a bit about me” buy him a silk suit, luggage and a plane ticket to Los Angeles. Upon landing in Los Angeles, he calls Norfolk, Virginia (“Tidewater four, ten-oh-nine”) to tell the folks back home he made it to the “promised land.” The lyric: “Swing low sweet chariot, come down easy/Taxi to the terminal zone” refers to the gospel lyric: “Swing low sweet Chariot, coming for to carry me Home” since both refer to a common destination, “The Promised Land,” which in this case is California, reportedly a heaven on earth.

Elvis Presley ‎– Promised Land (Cover LP)
Elvis Presley ‎– Promised Land (Cover LP)

Some Versions:
Chuck Berry November February 20, 1964
Johnny Rivers January 1965
Freddy Weller 1971
Dave Edmunds June 1972
Elvis Presley October 1, 1974
Mack Allen Smith 1976
Billy “Crash” Craddock June 1977
Jerry Deewood 1980
Meat Loaf 1983
Bill Hurley 1995
Dale Hawkins April 13, 1999
Art Adams December 2004

Chuck Berry – Promised Land Lyrics

I left my home in Norfolk Virginia
California on my mind
I straddled that Greyhound,
And rolled in into Raleigh and all across Carolina

Stopped in Charlotte and bypassed Rock Hill
And we never was a minute late
We was ninety miles out of Atlanta by sundown
Rollin’ out of 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

Right away, I bought me a through train ticket
Ridin’ cross Mississippi clean
And I was on that midnight flier out of Birmingham
Smoking into New Orleans

Somebody help me get out of Louisiana
Just help me get to Houston town
There are 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
Oh when the pilot told me in thirteen minutes
We’d be headin’ in the terminal gate

Swing low 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

Chuck Berry ‎– Promised Land (Single Chess 1964)
Chuck Berry ‎– Promised Land (Single Chess 1964)