Chuck Berry – Back In The USA

What better way to celebrate July 4th than to play a Chuck Berry song. It’s nice to be back to music. I’m traveling today so I may not be able to comment until later on.

Chuck’s guitar playing got most of the publicity but his storytelling of his time is what I like best. Was it poetry? I’m not qualified to answer that but his words flowed like water and he puts you in the lunch room, classroom, dance hall, and riding in a coffee color Cadillac.

Music critic and opera composer Gregory Sandow calls him “a poet of the practical life.” John Lennon reports that Berry’s lyrics influenced his own and calls him “the greatest rock and roll poet.” Keith Richards invokes the tradition of troubadour to emphasize the poetic qualities of Berry’s lyrics. In the end, I don’t guess it matters but what we get are self-contained stories that live on today.

This was a double A-sided single…the B side was Memphis Tennessee. The song peaked at #37 on the Billboard 100 and #16 in the Billboard R&B Charts.

This song has the same sound as Roll Over Beethoven but I can’t blame Chuck for sounding like Chuck. If he could have sued everyone that ripped off his riffs…he would have lived in a courtroom.

When Berry wrote this… he was returning to the United States following a trip to Australia and witness the living standards of Australian Aborigines. This song inspired Paul McCartney to put a twist on it and he wrote Back In The U.S.S.R. on the White Album.

Linda Ronstadt covered this in 1978. Her version went peaked at #16 on the Billboard 100, #8 in Canada, #24 in New Zealand.

Chuck and Linda played the song in the highly entertaining Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll and Linda’s voice is just incredible.

Back In The USA

Oh well, oh well, I feel so good today
We touched ground on an international runway
Jet propelled back home, from over the seas to the U.S.A.

New York, Los Angeles, oh, how I yearned for you
Detroit, Chicago, Chattanooga, Baton Rouge
Let alone just to be at my home back in ol’ St. Lou

Did I miss the skyscrapers, did I miss the long freeway?
From the coast of California to the shores of Delaware Bay
You can bet your life I did, till I got back to the U.S.A.

Looking hard for a drive in, searching for a corner cafe
Where hamburgers sizzle on an open grill night and day
Yeah, and a jukebox jumping with records like in the U.S.A.

Well, I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the U.S.A.
Yes, I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the U.S.A.
Anything you want, we got right here in the U.S.A.

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

46 thoughts on “Chuck Berry – Back In The USA”

    1. Happy 4th to you! No nothing pop culture…. but I did drive through your state! We flew to Colorado to pick up a vehicle and drive it back to TN… I will say this. NEVER have I’ve been able to see SO far than I did in Kansas! I have to go back there.
      The wind turbines are just awesome looking.

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      1. Oh wow, welcome to my state! 🙂 I’m guessing you drove I-70 all the way across? I do love the drive through western KS. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love the expansive views and the uncrowded highways. That’s been a long drive all the way from CO to your state. I hope it all went well.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I loved it! Yes I-70…that goes on forever! I now know why they called the Royals and Cardinals World Series the I-70 Showdown Series. We hardly ran into any traffic at all…everyone was nice where we stopped. The views are breathtaking.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Very few but I wanted to look close at one of the Turbines and just the small towns I saw…all the farming equipment. I mean we have some here but not like there….all the silos and other things. Plus I would love to see Royals stadium and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

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    1. I wish I would have got to see him….I say that a lot to you! You have seen some great ones! I did get to see The Who, Stones, Kinks, and McCartney but not when they were in their prime as you did many of them.

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  1. Happy July 4! Guess you’re seeing a chunk of the country today, appropriately enough. enjoy! I’d totally forgotten about the Linda Ronstadt version from back then…she could really handle any type of music in that era. Curiously I posted a video of Billy Joel doing the reaction song to this – Back in the USSR – on a post today.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll be checking your post tonight man…just got home. All together we were in 7 different states in a 24 hour time period
      Tennessee
      Texas (on the tarmac)
      Colorado
      Kansas
      Missouri
      Illinois
      Kentucky

      Liked by 4 people

      1. And I was obbverse! I feel like I’ve been beaten. We drove for at least 19 hours of it after we touched down in Colorado. I’m a nervous flyer but I did enjoy it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. what a whirlwind! Glad you made it back safely. My sweetie spent a year , give or take, in Kansas back in the 80s and really disliked it… I don’t think I’d want to live there but I wouldn’t mind seeing it at least once. Especially be cool to see some actual real prairie grasslands (as opposed to corn fields)…bison, prairie dogs and all.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I want to go back and visit the small towns around…I love small towns and would like to visit some….and Dave….those wind Turnbines are something to see!
        The view also….it’s almost unnatural to see that far!

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  2. Happy Fourth of July, Max, and safe travels, brother!

    Man, Chuck Berry songs had a seductive swing groove that just makes you wanna move. And, yes, the words were pretty clever as well.

    Chuck Berry certainly had his faults as a live performer, which at least in part was a result of his rules of engagement he imposed on concert organizers. But he was a terrific showman, and when he was good he was REALLY GOOD.

    And how ’bout Linda Ronstadt – damn, that lady was such a great and versatile artist. And what a dynamite vocalist.

    But the real killer here is the “Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll” clip. Watching Berry and Ronstadt feeding off each other is just fun. And Keith Richards on backing vocals. To borrow from Little Richard: Great gosh a’mighty!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That clip is a great one! Linda really belts it out! That whole movie is wonderful…the only awkward part is when Chuck called Julian “John” but I don’t blame him….

      Yea his concerts were as good as his backing band was at times.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Chuck could get precisely the right word for the song, he distilled that feeling of being 18 and restless. Funny, I commented on Dave’s site yesterday about seeing him live in ’75! Wouldn’t have missed it, and glad it was a damn good show.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m glad to hear that. The way he was…he would take whoever was local as a backup band…I’ve heard good and bad things about him live because of that.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Graham!
      As big of a fan I am of him…I’ve seen hit or miss with him at times… but just to come up with those riffs is something all it’s own.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always enjoyed Chuck Berry, also other people doing his songs. Heck, the Beatles and Stones probably wouldn’t have got so popular so quickly if not for those!

    Going by your comments, that was quite a trip you just undertook! You must be exhausted!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Val! Yes I am really wore out! I slept in this morning and trying to wake up. 19 hours or so in a car…whew…it’s been a while since I drove that far.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes…i do remember you telling me that. I only made one trip over 15 hours… and I was 18…. This was driving for 19 hours… yea I love traveling but that was a bit much

        Liked by 1 person

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