July 12, 2010

"(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66"

As I am prepping to be motoring west and taking the highway that is best (pictures are forthcoming), I thought I'd do something on Bobby Troup's classic homage to "The Mother Road."

From the Wikipedia entry:

"(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66," often rendered simply as "Route 66," is a popular song and rhythm and blues standard, composed in 1946 by American songwriter Bobby Troup. It was first recorded in the same year by Nat King Cole, and was subsequently covered by many artists including Chuck Berry in 1961, The Rolling Stones in 1964, and Depeche Mode in 1987. The song's lyrics follow the path of the U.S. Route 66 highway, which used to run a long distance across the U.S., going from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California. The title was suggested to Troup by his first wife, Cynthia.

Troup conceived the idea for the song while driving west from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles, California, and the lyrics — which include references to the U.S. highway of the title and many of the cities it passes through — celebrate the romance and freedom of automobile travel. In an interview he once said the tune for the song, as well as the lyric "Get your kicks on Route 66," came to him easily, but the remainder of the lyrics eluded him. More in frustration than anything else he simply filled up the song with the names of towns and cities on the highway.

Troup with Julie London at Ciro's in 1960

The lyrics read as a mini-travelogue about the major stops along the route, listing several cities and towns that Route 66 passes through, viz. St. Louis, Missouri; Joplin, Missouri; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Amarillo, Texas; Gallup, New Mexico; Flagstaff, Arizona; Winona, Arizona; Kingman, Arizona; Barstow, California; and San Bernardino, California.

This smoothly cool, live performance was done in Japan for a 1964 Julie London (Troup's protege and later wife) television special:

On a sort-of-related note, I think it's funny amusing interesting how Bobby Troup and Julie London were both on the early '70s TV show Emergency, one of the first things I can remember watching. I wonder if that was a package deal? What's the story there? Were they still married?


Anonymous said...

I would love to drive Route 66 the whole way! There is a place it crosses in Texas (not amarillo but a smaller town) I have been to. You will like to photograph. I look forward to the pics!

Chris said...

I'm sure I'll be going through that Texas town. Maybe Shamrock, maybe McLean. They both have a lot of cool stuff (still there, I hope). I'll only be covering from Tucumcari, New Mexico, to Shamrock, Texas, but there is much to see and photograph. Someday, I too would like to at least go from Chicago to the end of the Santa Monica fishing pier.

Aunt Snow said...

Julie London was quite amazing, wasn't she? I love "Cry Me a River."

Route 66 terminated at the intersection of Lincoln and Olympic Blvds here in Santa Monica - just blocks from where I work, and an intersection I travel almost everyday.

It stops short of making it to the beach - it never actually went to the end of the pier - although if you choose to visit, Chris, I'd be happy to give you a tour.

the 10 freeway, which 66 became - curves through the McClure tunnel and joins with Pacific Coast Highway and runs up the beach to Malibu - the perfect end for Route 66.

Chris said...

I do love Julie London, Aunt Snow. I think my favorite is her version of "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To."

Thanks for the clarification and info. I appreciate your offering to be tour guide!

Retro Hound said...

If you ever get to the very small Kansas part of Route 66, let me know. I'm only 15 or so miles north of it.

Chris said...

Thanks, I will. I was close enough to hear a weather report for Kansas on a public radio station.