Over the Thanksgiving holiday I was chatting with one of my nieces about music. She is a member of a high school all girl barbershop chorus. Let that sink in.
One of their featured tunes for an upcoming concert will be Route 66 which happens to be one of my most favorite tunes in the whole world, next to Growin’ Up.
I asked her if she knew who wrote the song and when she didn’t I flew into my full court Bobby Troup routine. Bobby, as you may or may not know, was born in Harrisburg but growin’ up ( there’s that word again) in Lancaster where he worked in the family business which was Troup’s Music store. Bobby at age 12 was the youngest card carrying member of the Lancaster Musician’s union and eventually went to Penn and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wharton. He was in the Marines during WWII. After the war he returned to Lancaster and with his wife he went west along the famous Route 66.
I first heard the song back in the 60’s covered by the Stones but it was Nat King Cole in 1946 who made the song a hit. Since then it’s been covered by everyone from Asleep at the Wheel, to me to John Mayer. The tune has legs.
And so that’s my Bobby Troup story. Old timers at some of the big band gigs still fondly remember Troup’s Music and Bobby. Most of our audiences at the big band gigs are old timers but that’s another story.
In checking out multiple versions of Route 66 on You Tube I found many different styles by lots of different bands. What I’m finding most interesting is that American jazz and popular music seems to be one of our most valued exports. I found French bands, Greek bands, Japanese all girl high school bands and this group who’s name loosely translates to ” Olga and the Sputniks” I think all playing Route 66.
One wonders whether this arrangement was smuggled into Russia during the Cold War.
This is a pretty good band and they obviously are having fun. Olga sings well and has studied at the school of Ella Fitzgerald. The kid has chops. My point is that I find it reassuring that American music is so welcomed all over the world and translates well even to countries that were formerly sworn enemies.
I eventually told my niece about Django Reinhardt, Asleep at the Wheel, maybe Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Stephan Grappelli, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and on and on. I cannot be responsible though if she choses to become a jazz musician.
So if you ever plan to motor west…