New Straits Times - - World -

Berry said Brown Eyed Hand­some

(1956) — a sly and dar­ing com­men­tary on race re­la­tions — was writ­ten after an episode he wit­nessed out­side a con­cert he was giv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia. A His­panic man was be­ing hand­cuffed by po­lice when a woman ran up, scream­er­a­tion. ing for him to be let go. In typ­i­cally mas­ter­ful man­ner, Berry was able to draw ef­fort­lessly on the worlds of art (the Venus de Milo) and base­ball to con­vey the wide-rang­ing al­lure of “browneyed” — barely en­coded to mean

“non-white” — men. It was ini­tially aimed at Berry’s younger sis­ter, who mo­nop­o­lised the fam­ily pi­ano prac­tic­ing clas­si­cal mu­sic. The rest, he said, came “out of my some­times un­be­liev­ably imag­i­na­tive mind”.

Promised Land (1964) is the story of a poor boy who “strad­dles a Grey­hound” out of Nor­folk, Vir­ginia, with Cal­i­for­nia on his mind. At full sprint (no time to stop for a cho­rus), he makes it from coast

to coast by bus,

Maria Alyokhina, one of two key mem­bers of the group, has taken Pussy Riot in an avant­garde di­rec­tion in an hour­long per­for­mance called Rev­o­lu­tion

that merges punk, elec­tron­ica, theatre, doc­u­men­tary footage and plenty of snide ref­er­ences to Putin.

It kicks off with an al­lu­sion train and air­plane. Berry wrote the song while be­hind bars — de­spite, as he wryly noted, the dif­fi­culty of get­ting his hands on an at­las: “The pe­nal in­sti­tu­tions then were not so gen­er­ous as to of­fer a map of any kind, for fear of pro­vid­ing the route for an es­cape.”

That fact made his lighthearted ren­der­ing of the road trip — with its love for a coun­try whose jus­tice sys­tem had so re­cently made him suf­fer — all the more in­cred­i­ble. NYT

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