“(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” was composed by Bobby Troup in 1946. He wrote it while he was on a cross country drive from Pennsylvania to California. Almost every city mentioned in the song is listed in geographical order. Only Winona, AZ is out of order for rhyme convenience. The highway passed through 8 states and the song lists cities from every one of them except Kansas. Gee… can’t imagine why he skipped that one. Nat King Cole recorded the song first and his is my favorite version.
I picked the song because it has numbers in it but I would have LOVED to have taken a road trip on Route 66! The road is almost gone now but there are a couple of long stretches left in Oklahoma, Arizona and California. Someday I’m going to rent a cool convertible and put the top down and drive them all! I want to get a tan so rich and deep that people will think I’m from the islands! And I would too if I hadn’t spent the first 12 years of my life as a red head. What will actually happen is I’ll put on a ton of sunscreen or I freckle and burn like the fairest lass from the Emerald Isle. Yeah, I know, I really just need to rip up my Black Person card and load up my Bing Crosby, Corrs, and Shaquille O’Neal CDs and embrace my inner Erin go Braugh!
Nelson Riddle has been called one of the best arrangers in the history of popular music. He began arranging for Nat King Cole 1950 and he’s responsible for some of Nat’s biggest hits including “Mona Lisa” and “Too Young.” This clip comes from Nat King Cole’s variety show which ran from 1956-1957. Nelson Riddle was the show’s orchestra leader. The song is “Diga Diga Doo” which is from the 1928 music review “Blackbirds.”
Two completely unrelated thoughts:
First thought: I was shocked to learn that musical copyist still exists as a profession. I went looking for it fully expecting the find they’d been replaced by the printer and/or photo copier but apparently the task requires very specialized musical knowledge. So the tools have changed (computers nowadays instead of calligraphy pens) but the job is still intact.
Second thought: The first time I heard this song was in a 1977 made for TV movie called “Circle Of Children.” The movie was about a school for “emotionally disturbed” kids and it was pretty unremarkable. I hadn’t thought about in years; but hearing this song got me thinking about it and my thoughts led to a very interesting commute time conversation with myself about the changes in special education since that movie was made. When I say I had a conversation, I don’t mean I had one of those silent inner monologues with small secret smiles and far off wistful gazes. I mean I had a crazy, disjointed, tin foil hat wearing, bag lady style verbal soliloquy in my car, all alone. It’s days like this that make me thankful for the invention of blue tooth. That magical little ear piece that makes everyone think people are talking to themselves has really leveled the playing field for those of us who actually are talking to ourselves!
The song “You’re Looking At Me” is from the 1957 album “After Midnight” which Murry Horwitz of the American Film Institute says might be Nat King Cole’s “greatest album of all time.” I couldn’t find any information on when Bobby Troup wrote the song but both he and Cole recorded it in 1957 so I’m guessing it was written the same year.
The NPR radio transcript where I got the Horwitz quote also mentions that Nat King Cole didn’t start singing until later in his music career and only then did he become a real superstar. Bobby Troup, an outstanding composer and a fine pianist, also started singing later in his career and it was at that point that he became an actor. One of my favorite comedians once said an important lesson he learned while working in television was “I can’t sing, but it’s alright for me to sing.” That works great if you’re a comedian. If you’re a musician, not so much. Thank goodness Bobby gave us so many wonderful songs and thank even more goodness that other people have decided to sing them!
Long story short: A dozen friends from Twitter descended on St Louis for a “Tweet-up” and a show and (shock of the century) it was a blast! Here’s the scoop:
When you “Meet” people in “St. Louis” there’s really only one song you can use to kick off the post:
Part 1: The Drive
There are many many driving songs but I think this one fits the situation perfectly.
At the St Louis meet up last year I nearly killed us all when the brakes failed on my ancient car. This year I decided to forgo the attempted vehicular manslaughter and I hitched a ride with my buddy whose screen name is Splatnuk. His lady love is not a fan and she doesn’t attend these events so he was driving solo and he was glad of the company. Splatnuk lives just below the North Pole and I live south of him in one of the seedier sections of Narnia. We decided to meet at sunrise where our paths intersect at the gateway between the fantasy realm and reality aka Joliet, IL. It was a fantastic road trip full of laughter and great conversation marred only by the fact that *someone*, and I’m not naming names, drank too much with her breakfast and had to stop every 10 to 20 feet to go to the ladies room. When you have a really long trip,”Don’t drink and drive” isn’t just about alcohol. They oughta put a warning label on Diet Coke!
Tune in tomorrow for the exciting sequel: “The Tweet-up”
This is a clip from “The Nat King Cole Show” which ran from 1956 -1957. I believe this is the first June Christy we’ve had on this thread! I love it when women show up. June was born in my home state Illinois and she began singing professionally at the tender age of 13. She came to prominence when she replaced Anita O’Day in Stan Kenton’s orchestra where she scored hits with “Tampico” and “How High The Moon.” I always LOVE to hear Nat King Cole play and Mel Torme on drums is a treat!
While I was looking up info for this post, I came across some publicity photos of June. A couple showed her with her hubby in their spotless home in typical poses of 1950’s domesticity. It made me smile because my mom will be visiting all next week. I love my mom and we always look forward to her visits. Here’s my question though, why do I feel the need to imitate that same image of perfect domesticity whenever anyone comes over? I don’t live in squalor. A&E is not about to show up with a camera crew. But I work full time and I Mom full time too and I confess that when I have time to myself, I do not always feel like picking up a dust rag. But now that my mom is coming I am polishing and dusting and organizing like a mad woman! I’m thinking entertaining would be a lot less stressful if I just print up a form letter of domestic confession:
Dear [insert visitor here],
My knick knacks are often dusty, my toiletries are shamefully unorganized, and sometimes there’s pet hair on the furniture. I hope you can still find it in your heart to love me somehow.
P.S. Caution: Restroom sometimes contains disgruntled flying rodent.
In his heyday, Nat King Cole’s albums outsold Sinatra’s. In 1956 he became the first Black host of a television variety show. The show aired without national sponsorship since major companies were unwilling to risk the ire of Southern White consumers. Even though it got excellent ratings, it only lasted a year before Cole himself decided to cancel it citing financial loss. Unfortunately, he was a heavy smoker who believed that cigarettes kept his voice low. He died of lung cancer in 1965.
When you search Nat King Cole on You Tube you’ll find an embarrassment of riches! I had a tough time choosing just one sample to post here today. I finally decided to go with a song called “Let There Be Love” because the video is in color and the happy little song reminds me of spring.
Every spring I get bombarded with junk mail ads from the lawn treatment companies offering to kill the pretty yellows, purples, whites, and pinks dotting my lawn. I throw em straight in the recycling bin. I think my “grass killers” are beautiful and I let them grow as free as the lawn mower will allow on my grass.
I actually made dandelion wine from the pretty yellow blossoms on my lawn once. My daughter, who was two then, helped me pick the flowers. Yes, I made moonshine with my toddler. (Gee, why hasn’t the Mother Of The Year committee called?) I suppose the fact that I don’t drink makes dandelion wine an interesting choice for a summer project, but it was fun. Of course, 4 years later I still have about 3 gallons of suspicious looking yellow liquid sitting on the shelf. I suppose I should either cook with it or throw it out. I get tired of telling people “No I’m not Howard Hughes, it’s WINE!