Chuck Berry: 20 Essential Songs

"Johnny B. Goode," "Roll Over Beethoven" and other masterpieces that laid the groundwork for rock & roll as we know it

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"Down Bound Train" (1955)

A bluesy allegory for sin with a locomotive rhythm-guitar line, "Down Bound Train" reflected Berry's deeply held religious beliefs. The lyrics describe a person who drank so much that he passed out only to awaken on a train lit by a brimstone lamp and barreling through sulphuric fumes – the engineer was "the Devil himself." "I could say my father, in many ways, really wrote the foundation for 'Down Bound Train' in his constant preaching of the horrors of hell once you've missed the blessings of salvation and heaven," Berry wrote in his autobiography. "So let it be known that I'm not alone to reap what I've sown in fire and brimstone because of my own bad traits that I've shown." He added that he still got a chill when hear heard the song.

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