Jimmy Thackery Takes The Wheel Of A Classic
Jimmy Thackery is a musical hitchhiker: He jumps on Chuck Berry's "Promised Land" and takes off without a second look. The bluesman uses his stinging, ringing guitar to set the pace for a cross-country journey that begins on a bus in Southwest Virginia. He's headed to California, like so many musical travelers before him, but, true to blues tradition, there's motor trouble. So what can Thackery do but stop singing for a minute or so and churn out a driving guitar solo? He is, after all, stuck in Birmingham.
With his warm-hearted growl, Thackery lays out the rest of his trip: a train to New Orleans, a sojourn in Houston where some nice people buy him a silk suit, a flight to L.A. Then he picks up a phone: "Tell the folks back home this is the promised land callin' / and the poor boy's on the line." The song doesn't reveal the purpose of the phone call. But Thackery's exuberant version makes it clear that "Promised Land" exists to celebrate the great American road trip. The irony for Chuck Berry, of course, is that he wrote "Promised Land" while doing time for transporting an underage girl across state lines — a side of interstate travel the song helpfully leaves out.
Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.