Route 66 (TV show/song/actual road) appreciation thread

Instead of needlessly hijacking the “Cars” thread in regards to the international appeal of The Mother Road, I thought I’d start this thread.

To me, Route 66 is emblematic the USA, particularly “The West” and the freedom of the open road. That feeling is shared Americans and people all over the world. (no cite other than people I’ve met and tour buses full of foreign tourists seen during my travels).

The TV program of the early 60s: Even though they spend almost no time on Route 66 proper, the show is an amazing time capsule. Buzz and Tod, the rich kid and the guy from Hell’s Kitchen–two 20-somethings in search of a place to settle down. They find jobs at the drop of a hat, working at a steel mill, a chicken farm, a missile plant. On the road they find women to fall in love with, men to have fistfights with, and get involved with melodrama all along the way.

The song: Bobby Troup wrote it en route to Los Angeles, Nat King Cole made it famous. Route 66 has been covered by dozens of artists. Do you have a favorite version?

The Mother Road: America’s Main Street, symbol of the way west since the 1930s, icon of our car culture. Tell almost anyone of a certain age that you’re going to drive from Chicago to LA and watch their eyes light up. The romance of the Blue Highways still calls to those who want to find the “real” America, even as it gets swallowed up by strip malls that look the same in every town.

Has anyone else driven Route 66? Seen the TV show? Played the song? I know there must be a few of you out there.

I’ve driven from Chicago to LA, but I took the interstates. Had a job waiting for me, so “touching Indians” had to be deferred for another day.

My favorite version of the song is by Depeche Mode, but they are all pretty good.

Were Todd and Buzz gay? If two good looking guys in their late 20’s are driving across America in a Corvette convertible today, chances are they are gay…or serial killers.

Nope, not gay on the TV show. They got involved with various women in many of the episodes, including a couple of engagements. Now, George in real life, that may be another story.

I’ve driven on sections of Route 66. Most of it doesn’t exist any more, but I sure would like to attempt the drive from LA to Chicago on as much of it as I can.

When I had a radio show on KKFI in Kansas City the station went off the air every night at midnight. Every night, the last shows of the evening were all alternative-music shows and we would all have to do a signoff (“KKFI FM is authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to operate on a frequency of 90.1 megahertz at 100,000 watts…We will return to the air tomorrow morning at 10:00am. Good night”). The first few weeks, when we were on tape and the people at the transmitter shut down the station, somebody there decided that they were going to use Troup’s “Route 66” as background music to the signoff.

After we went live, one of the other alternative show’s producers thought he had a better version and substituted Depeche Mode’s version, and we all started using it. Since I heard it for years, and it reminds me of a great time in my life, that’s the version I like best. The versions that I can find on YouTube are slightly different from the one that we used. Here’s the one we used (with my problematic signoff included, sorry).

Well, I’m old enough to remember the actual, genuine, official U.S. Highway 66 (as well as the TV show), and frankly, it wasn’t really different from U.S. 6, or 40, 50, 61 or any other number you want to mention.

The appeal was getting to Los Angeles. The trip along the way was the usual – greasy diners that would make today’s tourist long for McDonalds, seedy gas stations with mechanics that would happily gouge you for a new tire or radiator hose, less than comfortable motels along the way, and the ever-popular “tourist trap.”

Of course in those days, people were nostalgic for the real blue highways – the State Route 2, “Old Post Road” and so on. That’s where we were supposed to see the real America.

My wife and I drove it back in 2007, Chicago to LA, and blogged about it along the way.

Lots of fun, but also lots of nothing (frontage road for I-44, etc) which wasn’t so bad, since my style of photography relies on lots of abandonment.

We took a jaunt on a bit of Route 66 for Thanksgiving. From Amboy to Danby, to be exact.

I am just back in Australia after a 4 week research trip covering lots of the US (9 locations). 4 days were staying in Albuquerque Old Town in a B&B on Route 66. I also took the bus a few times in both directions. I don’t feel safe driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. I remember the show, and just got a real buzz out of being on such a famous road.

I loved New Mexico - it exceeded all expectations. I loved most of all those few days spend based on Route 66. When I come back - and that will be as soon as I can make it - it will be back to the same place.

I take the train from Chicago to Kansas City frequently. The route is the Southwest Chief, and apparently the highway followed the train tracks (might have been the other way around, but the train was usually there first). They announce the major station stops, and as a result, that song runs through my head: “Kingsman, Barstow, San Bernardino”

I remember we watched the TV show, as a family, faithfully. There was an episode about LSD that scared the crap out of us little kids!

I’ve always loved the jazzy, bouncy theme song. NOT the ‘get your kicks on Route 66’ one, the actual instrumental theme song. I actually have it burned on a CD in my car, and it’s fun to play on a hot, sunny, windy day (as is L.A. Woman by the Doors, but I digress).

I always thought it was Martin Milner who was gay and was surprised to hear about George Maharis!

When the cops catch up to the freaked-out Tod (Milner), by strange coincidence the police car is numbered 12. BTW, did you ever notice that there is a fist fight in almost every episode of Route 66?

Couple of thoughts about the show.

The theme - when the OP said “TV show/song” I immediately thought of the Nelson Riddle theme song to “Route 66” before I thought of the Bobby Troup number. That’s how strong Nelson Riddle’s composition is - maybe the second best TV theme of all time, behind Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” theme.

I also remember a “MAD” magazine parody of the show called “Route 67.” It was really funny! It made jokes about how far away from the actual Route 66 the guys’ adventures took place. (I remember episodes set in New Orleans, Boston, Pittsburgh, Oregon and maybe even Florida - none of which are exactly within spitting distance of Route 66")

The funniest part of the parody was that Tod and Buz pulled into a town and couldn’t find anyone to help. Everyone’s personal problems had already been solved! It turned out that Mary Worth had pulled into town before them. N0 FAIR! How could they POSSIBLY complete with the world’s foremost professional do-gooder/busybody!"

The theme song was great, the Vette was great, the locations were great but…

I wonder how many times this happened out on Route 66

My favorite version of the song is by the Rolling Stones.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra also recorded an excellent cover.

Supposedly the first song ever played on BBC FM.

I’m curious if anyone has visited the famous sights/tourist traps along 66. Meramec Caverns? The Blue Whale? The Devil’s Rope Museum? Cadillac Ranch? Meteor Crater? Anyone ever sleep in a Tee Pee? Feed the burros in Oatman, Arizona?

I had an interesting tour of Meremec Caverns. It was the beginning of the season, and the 15 year-old guide hadn’t quite memorized his spiel yet. He would faulter through a few sentences, pause, then he’d have to read the rest of lines from the printed script.

That wasn’t too bad, but there was a trio of tourists that had their own running conversation during the whole tour. They apparently didn’t grasp the concept that since we were in a cave, the rest of us could hear every friggin’ word they said. I droped several very unsubtle hints about being considerate, but they didn’t get it. The kid wasn’t experienced enough to tell them to shut the hell up, either. What a drag.

For those interested in Route 66, the cross-country Lincoln Highway is also an interesting peice of history. I saw a documentary about it on PBS a few years ago, they were visiting some of the older sites along the way and tracing the original routes. One abandoned section was behind an old gas station, the owner/attendant didn’t know anything about the Lincoln Highway.

They even have an association.