Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Promised Land

Written and first recorded by Chuck Berry (US #41/R&B #16/UK #26 1965).
Other hit versions by Fred Weller (C&W #3 1971), Rockpile (AUS #5 1972), Elvis Presley (US #14/C&W #9/UK #9 1974).
Also recorded by The Grateful Dead (1976).

From the wiki: “‘Promised Land’ was written by Chuck Berry to the melody of ‘Wabash Cannonball’, an American Folk song. It was first recorded in this version by Chuck Berry in 1964 for his album St. Louis to Liverpool. Released in 1965, 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 of the American Southeast that he encounters along his journey. Berry borrowed an atlas from the prison library to plot the song’s itinerary. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, ‘the poor boy’ calls Norfolk, Virginia (‘Tidewater four, ten-oh-nine’) to tell the folks back home he’s made it to the ‘promised land.’

“In December 1973, Elvis Presley recorded a powerful, driving version of ‘Promised Land’ that was released as a single on September 27, 1974, charting in the US and UK. Also of note: The Grateful Dead performed ‘Promised Land’ live a total of 425 times between July 1971 through the band’s last show in 1995.”

Fred Weller, “Promised Land” (1971):

Rockpile, “Promised Land” live TV performance (1972):

Elvis Presley, “Promised Land” (1973):

The Grateful Dead, “Promised Land” (1976):

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