The New York Times follows the route of the African American experience plotted by Berry's lyrics over the years. See the whole feature here
Steve Knopper writes: "Chuck Berry’s 1964 classic “Promised Land” is all about motion. The opening guitar riff is a big and fast thing taking off, a bus leaving the station, a jet rising from the tarmac. The poor boy, our narrator, is endlessly rollin’ and ridin’, straddling that Greyhound, smoking into New Orleans, swinging low chariot, coming down easy.
It is a motion specific to the African-American experience in the 20th century: “The one thing they could do, that they couldn’t do under slavery, was move,” said Mark Burford, an associate music professor at Reed College in Portland, Ore.
And it is a motion designed to pull yourself out of trouble: “Each verse seems to have something happen, or lose something,” the Texas rocker Joe Ely told me, “but always, at the end of the next verse, it rises up like a phoenix.”"