The Late Movies: "Promised Land"

Chuck Berry's "Promised Land" is one of humanity's finest achievements. One part rock and roll creation myth and one part musical cartography, it tells the tale of "the poor boy," a Virginia kid with California on his mind, who overcomes numerous hurdles as he heads westward by bus, train and airplane through America's sonic heartland, the hallowed ground of the blues, country and zydeco. When he finally arrives in the Golden State, with the the first free moment he's had to take a breath since his journey began, he rushes to the phone to tell the folks back home that he's made it. Tomorrow the journey continues, as he presumably seeks fortune and fame in the promised land, but for now, he just wants everyone that helped get him this far know that he's alright.

(Young) Chuck Berry

There's a little bit of irony in the fact that Berry wrote the song not on one of his own cross-country tours, but in the confines of a federal prison cell, where he spent three years for transporting a minor across state lines for "immoral purposes" (he had to borrow a U.S. atlas from the prison library to plot the poor boy's journey).

Johnnie Allan

When the Cajun swamp pop pioneer released his version of the tune in 1971, he wrote to Berry about it, but got a cold shoulder. He said, "All I wanted was an autographed picture. But I never heard from him."

Meat Loaf

Michael Lee Aday replaces the verse that Allan skipped, but then skips one later on.

Elvis Presley

Elvis' driving version of the song can be heard in a scene in Men In Black, prompting a brief conversation about The King and Tommy Lee Jones' explanation that "Elvis is NOT dead. He just went home."

Dave Edmunds

Not bad for a Welshman!

(Older) Chuck Berry

When Berry was released in October 1963, on his birthday, he began recording again and put "Promised Land" on his 1964 album, St. Louis to Liverpool, and released it as the first single.

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Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
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Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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4 Movies, 1 Thing In Common II
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