Back in the USA

From Chuck Berry’s 60th birthday concert in St. Louis in 1986, here is Linda Ronstadt singing Berry’s 1959 song, “Back in the USA,” accompanied by Berry, Keith Richards, and others. Gosh, think of a time when rock singers actually liked America and full throatedly sung their affection, even Ronstadt, who in later years became a bitter America-hater. According to Wikipedia, the song’s lyrics were based on “Chuck returning to the USA following a trip to Australia and witnessing the living standards of Australian Aborigines.”

Chuck Berry is to rock ‘n’ roll what Haydn is to the symphony—the innovative creator who put it in its classical form. And he was a great writer of rock ‘n’ roll lyrics too.

Here are the lyrics of “Back in the USA,” with some minor adjustments by me to conform to what I hear in the recorded versions of the song. A passing point: Ronstadt, both in this live performance and in her cover version on her 1978 album, Living in the USA, changes some of the instances of, “I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the USA,” to the more emphatic, “I’m so proud…”

Oh well, oh well, I feel so good today
We just touched down 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 the 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 café
Where the hamburgers sizzle on the open griddle night and day
Yeah, and the juke-box jumping with records back 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.

- end of initial entry -

July 13

Ray G. writes:

I had a busy weekend (nephew’s graduation party, plus an airshow at a local Air Force base) so I hadn’t visited your site since Saturday morning. I see you worked into the discussion “Back in the USA”!

I like Chuck Berry and Ronstadt’s versions, even though Linda is a whacked out left-winger! I’ve noticed in recent years, she refers to herself as a “Mexican-American”, even though she is American born and raised and her parents are also both American born, one of German ancestry and one of Mexican ancestry. Calling one’s self “American” is no longer chic.

I guess today its politically correct (and better for one’s career) to be identified in some way as a Latino (or Latina, Hispanic, Mexican, Chicano, etc.)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 11, 2010 07:10 PM | Send

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