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), Johnnie Allan (1971), Dave Edmunds (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 as a promotional single, it was Berry’s first single issued following the completion of his prison sentence 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.’

“Fred Weller charted a cover version on the US country music chart in 1971. Dave Edmunds covered ‘Promised Land’ in 1972 for his debut solo album, Rockpile. It charted Top-5 on the Australian chart.

“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 UK and the US (on both the pop and country charts).

“Also of note: The Grateful Dead recorded ‘Promised Land’ for their 1976 double-live album, Steal Your Face. The group also performed ‘Promised Land’ live a total of 425 times, beginning in July 1971 through the band’s last show in 1995.”

Fred Weller, “Promised Land” (1971):

Johnnie Allan, “Promised Land” (1971):

Dave Edmunds, “Promised Land” (1972):

Elvis Presley, “Promised Land” (1973):

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

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