Route 66

Album: Best Of Nat King Cole (1946)
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  • This song has been covered dozens of times in all music styles. It was written and originally performed by Bobby Troup, a singer and pianist who was married to the actress Julie London. Both appeared as regular cast members of the TV show Emergency.

    The song was popularized by The King Cole Trio, which was the big act for Columbia Records. Columbia was founded in 1942, and the trio recorded this song in 1946, the same year they had a big hit with "For Sentimental Reasons." Cole was the piano player in the trio, and in 1947 he started recording as a solo artist, which is how many of his recordings of "Route 66" are credited. His solo efforts often had lush orchestral arrangements, but in 1946, he was part of a swinging trio that captured the traveling feel of this song perfectly.
  • Route 66 is a famous US road that goes from Los Angeles to Chicago. There are many interesting sights and landmarks along the way, making it a popular road trip destination.
  • Rick Busciglio of Memory Lane Presentations tells us: "At a party in Hollywood in the 1970s 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."
  • Chuck Berry recorded this song in 1961. His version got the attention of The Rolling Stones, who covered it in 1964 and made it a regular part of their stage show. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • John Mayer covered this song for the Pixar movie Cars. This version was nominated for a Grammy. The Cars soundtrack also included Chuck Berry's version. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Katrina, Pullman, WA
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Comments: 13

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 7th 1960, the drama series 'Route 66' debut on the CBS-TV network...
    The series ran for four seasons with a total of 116 original episodes...
    Two years later on May 27th, 1962 "The Route 66 Theme" by Nelson Riddle* & his Orchestra entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #93; and on August 5th, 1962 it peaked at #30 {for 1 week} and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    One of the series' leading actors, George Maharis, had five records make the Top 100; with "Teach Me Tonight" being his biggest hit, it peaked at #25 in 1962...
    R.I.P. Mr. Riddle {1921 - 1985} and Mr. Maharis celebrated his 86th birthday last month on September 1st {2014}...
    * Mr. Riddle was also the song's composer.
  • David from Hudson, OhI have heard most all of the different cuts of this song, and I have to agree with the earlier comment that "Aleep At The Wheel" does the best version.
  • Joel from Manhattan, NyI can just picture some hipster like Jack Karowack
    (yes I know that's not how you spell it it but that is beside the point) cruising along in his car sipping coffee from a thermos and jotting down notes for a book.
  • Colt from Chicago, IlThere's still a stretch of route 66 between Bloomington and Decatur, IL. I only know because I took an exit I shouldn't have - too bad it wasn't daylight or I might have checked out what kind of town it goes through.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaNat Cole, one of the great jazz pianists!
    Great stuff!
  • John from Mansfield, TxThere are a few stretches of Route 66 that you can still drive over.
    In 2006,My Wife and I were in OKC on Vacation,so we drove out Route 66 from OKC to Elk City.
    There's a really cool Route 66 Museum in Clinton.
    Also,we went to New Mexico last year and if you get off I 40 in San Jon,Old 66 is the back road into Tucumcari.
    And"Cars"is probably the most appropriate movie to play the Drive In Movies.
    We saw it in June 2006 at the Galaxy DI in Ennis,Texas.
    FYI:Asleep at the Wheel does the best version of Route 66.
  • Katrina from Pullman, WaJohn Mayer Covered this song for the Pixar Movie "Cars"
  • Dmitry from Moscow, EuropeI first heard Route66 in 1965 performed by Rolling Stones and I was simply "pinned down" by this song. I was then a young student of English in Moscow, at that time totally isolated from the West. The only words I could understand from the worn-out tape which I borrowed from a friend, were "Route 66" and "Chicago..." The rest was a mistery, yet to be discovered.
    Since that time I have learnt a lot about the World, including the US geography, history and culture. Also, I have been there twice on longer trips. But even now, after decades have passed, there is nothing better than this song, from which I am still getting my kicks.
    Dmitry, Moscow
  • Walter from Antwerp, BelgiumThis song was first recorded and copyrighted in 1946 (not 1942). There were at least half a dozen versions before The Stones (or Chuck Berry) took this famous route, Perry Como, Louis Jordan, Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters among them.
  • Dian from Columbia, United StatesFirst of all, please remember how to spell the names of the stars, Martin Milner and George Maharis. I saw George Maharis recently at an outdoor cafe in West Hollywood. He must be in his late 70's and he still looks GOOD! IF ANY OF YOU LIVE IN LOS ANGELES OR NEW YORK YOU CAN VISIT THE MUSEUM OF TELEVISION AND RADIO AND FOR A SMALL FEE YOU CAN REQUEST EPISODES OF ROUTE 66. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY IT HAS NOT BEEN SYNDICATED BUT I HAVE NEVER SEEN THE SHOW ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD AFTER THE SERIES ENDED SO VERY LONG AGO. SOME OF MY HAPPY MEMORIES AND GROWING EXPERIENCES OCURRED BECAUSE OF THAT SERIES. I BEGAN TO QUESTION THE VALIDITY OF THE SMALL-TOWN LIFE I WAS LEADING AND VENTURE FORTH INTO THE GREAT BIG WORLD.
    DIAN HILL MELZER
  • Alan from Grande Prairie, Alberta, CanadaDon't forget the TV show with Martin Milnar, George Mahris and a "cool" ' 62 Vette.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InRoute 66 has been slowing making a come back over the last few years. I would like to travel what is left of it one of these days soon. You can't beat the back road adventure it has to offer. I have been blessed to travel some of it a few years ago, but want to see it all. Depeche Mode did a great cover of this tune, and is on the soundtrack for "Earth Girls are Easy".
  • Keith from Slc, UtUS Route 66 was abandoned after being replaced by the Interstate highways. The last stretch of Route 66 to be closed was at Williams, Arizona. The event was commemorated by a celebration at which Bobby Troupe sang the song. Most of the original Route 66 roadway was destroyed to give the land back to the original owners (mostly farms and ranches), courtesy of the environmentalists. Several long stretches of the original roadway still exist, some running miles in a perfectly straight line alongside Interstate 40 in northern Arizona, so you can still get your kicks. BTW, Julie London married Troupe after divorcing Jack Webb, years before she and Troupe starred on "Emergency!," which was produced by Jack Webb.
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