Saturday, September 14, 2013

Route 66 The Song

I have several versions of the iconic Bobby Troupe hit Route 66 in my music collection. The Songfacts website shares the origins of the now timeless hit:

Rick Busciglio of Memory Lane Presentations tells us: "At a party in Hollywood in the 1970's I was introduced to Mrs. Bobby Troup. I was very surprised with the introduction because I knew that Bobby Troup was married to a magnificent singer (and beauty) by the name of Julie London... and this lady was clearly not Julie London. First name Cynthia. This Mrs. Bobby Troup told me this tale about when she was the first wife of Troup: They were living modestly in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at the end of World War II and Bobby Troup had decided that 'if I'm going to make it in the music business I've got to go to LA.' So they drive cross country to Los Angeles and while they motor on a long boring stretch of US Route 66, they play word games coming up with the lyrics to a song ('I get my kicks on route 66')... which, of course, was the classic 'Route Sixty-Six.' When they arrived in Los Angeles and rented a small apartment they were almost penniless. Bobby Troup set their lyrics to music, peddled it around and eventually convinced Johnny Mercer's new record company Capital to record it with their top star, Nat Cole. Within weeks after its release the song was a nationwide hit - in fact it reached #1. AND the royalties from this one song provided enough money to buy a house. A few years later, Troup produced Julie London's million selling hit record 'Cry Me A River.' He divorced Cynthia and married Julie five years later."
When I look at the good old Wikipedia there are a lot more versions available to me. Many more than I have in my collection. Many of them I am familiar with and plan to use the Wikipedia list to add to my music collection. I'll get into that later, but for now here is what I have to work with. Links to purchase and to YouTube videos where possible will be included for your multimedia consumerist pleasure.
Nat King Cole - The original and still one of the best versions out there. This has to open up the disc. Nat has a cool swinging vibe that just brings to my mind images of movement, neon, and wide open swinging American night where shadows of cacti are illuminated by the glare of truck headlights and neon motel signs blink their welcoming messages of air conditioning and easy vacancy. Of course, the haze of nostalgia blurs the memory that when this song was a hit, shamefully, Nat King Cole would have been facing segregation laws on much of the highway.

As we continue down Route 66 I will intersperse other versions of the tune from my collection as well as acquisitions I pick up along the way. Next post we go to the Great State of Illinois where the highway began.

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