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