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Intro

In a Nutshell:

There are songs about highways, byways, streets, and roads of all kinds, but there’s one route that’s King of them all, and fittingly it was a King who sang about it. Nat King Cole’s classic 1946 tune helped give Route 66 a reputation as the sweetest path around. Today, this particular U.S. Highway is a greater attraction for rambling European tourists than it is for practical driving, although there are still some American travelers who the route when they cross the country. But whose idea was it to build a road from Chicago to Los Angeles anyway? Read on to learn more about this Grand-Pappy of the Interstate—and the man who made it famous.

About the Song

ArtistNat King Cole Musician(s)Nat King Cole (vocals, piano)
AlbumSingle
Year1946
LabelCapitol
Writer(s)Bobby Troup
Producer(s)
Learn to play: http://www.freehandmusic.com/sheet-music/get-your-kicks-on-route-66-365364 http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0079723 http://www.e-chords.com/chords/nat-king-cole/get-your-kicks-onroute-66
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Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Nat King Cole was a serious jazz musician with a magnetic stage presence and a knack for pleasing audiences. When he started making pop records in the 1940s, though, his jazz fans saw it as a huge betrayal (perhaps it was a precursor to that controversial moment in the mid-60s when Bob Dylan went electric).

But Cole was just rolling with the times—a newly booming economy after a long recession, an exciting Chicago music scene that was bringing black music into the mainstream, and an America that was supposed to belong to everyone, networked by a growing web of highways. But where did Cole, a young black singer and pianist from the Deep South, fit in to it all?

On the Charts

Nat King Cole was the first pop artist to record “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66”, and his version was extremely popular. The song was released before Billboard used its current chart system, though, so we can’t exactly say it was a “#1 hit” or anything.

Even though Nat King Cole passed away in 1965, his collectors’ albums and re-mastered compilations have charted on the Billboard 200, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and Jazz Albums charts as recently as 2010.
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