Skip to comments.ROUTE 66 Theme Song, by Nelson Riddle, a Jazzy Classic, Inspired by an American Car.
Posted on 01/29/2014 9:40:48 PM PST by lee martell
One of the first television theme songs that caught my attention as a kid in Catholic School, was Route 66, written and conducted by Nelson Riddle. Route 66 was on Friday nights on CBS from Oct. 7 1960 to March 20 1964. It was shot on location, and though the show got it's name from that famous highway, very few episodes were shot on that actual highway. The program starred Martin Milner as Tod Stiles, and for the first two seasons George Maharis as Buz Murdock. The show centered around the adventures of two young men who traveled across America in a Chevrolet Corvette sports car. Route 66 was a hybrid between episodic TV drama, which has continuing characters and situations, and the anthology format (i.e. Twilight Zone) in which each week's show has a completely different cast and story.
Route 66 had just three continuing characters, and no more than two of whom appeared in the same episode. Like Richard Kimble from The Fugitive, the wanderers would move from place to place, becoming entwined in the struggles and routines of the people in that town. Unlike Kimble, nothing was forcing the Route 66 guys to stay on the move except their own sense of adventure. This series helped set the tone of what an open ended format could be. Virtually any story could be incorporated. The original idea was said to involve two ex-army men who had left the service, and were looking to re-establish themselves in American life. Tod (Milner) was portrayed as clean cut, plainspoken, well educated and All American. Buz (Marharis) was based on a working class, loose, hip personality, close to the concept of the Beat Generation. Route 66 seems the epitome of perfect driving music, for when you're not in a hurry, but want to drive fast anyway, with all the windows down, and breezes blowing in. With this theme song, Nelson Riddle made the music speak. The song sounds like something I would think of and experience privately, from beginning to the end with it's splashy cresendoes, not like a bunch of noises coming out of some radio.
It was a great theme song...I remember it well, from my teen years.
Great show and great theme song. Still sounds good after all these years.
I like the Depeche Mode version...
Ironically, I just listened to the other “Route 66” by Asleep at the Wheel not 15 seconds before coming to this thread ;-)
And having just read Linda Ronstadt’s book “Simple Dreams”, where she speaks powerfully of her admiration for Nelson Riddle, I’ve listened to the Route 66 Theme a half dozen times in the last week. It’s one I can listen to all day and never get tired of, just a terrific piece of music from one of the most talented arrangers and composers of our time.
Ahh memories, thanks man
I LOVE that piece of music! Makes me wish I could play piano.
Thanks for posting this!
striking use of stings. great arrangement.
oops. strings not stings.
Oh, I had assumed it was the Bobby Troupe “Route 66.” My Bad.
I have the complete tv-series on dvd. Filmed on-location all across America, circa 1960-64. One of my all-time favorites. Great scripts, tons of great guest-stars. Incredible americana.
I am just going a little crazy listening to some stuff I haven’t played in a while...
OUT OF LIMITS - THE MARKETTS - (ORIGINAL VERSION) 1962
No Matter What Shape... - The T-Bones (1965)
The Ventures - Walk Don’t Run
Santo & Johnny, Sleepwalk, 1959 (this gets played a LOT)
Including the final scene, in which Martin Milner is set to marry Jeannie!
Nice piece on Wikipedia:
Thanks for bringing up Linda Ronstadt. I forgive (most of)her liberal outbursts because of her delightful voice. Apparently, Nelson did not know of think much of Linda Ronstadt when he was first asked to work with her. One of his daughters did know Linda’s work quite well, and said, ‘Don’t worry Dad, Linda is OK, her checks will not bounce. Nelson also arranged the production on Nat King Cole’s Mona Lisa. That became a huge hit and led to many more sessions of studio work with Nat and Nelson Riddle.
Wow, looks like you’ve hit the jackpot of tunes!
Music and lyrics are credited to jazz drummer Bobby Troup (1946) -- also known as the Julie London's husband.
Route 66 is one timeless composition that deserves a place on the list of All-time Top 100 American Songs.
I made the same mistake, this is the theme to the TV series “Route 66”, different song.