The Rolling Stones

Route 66

Song Review by

Bobby Troup's song "Route 66" is an oft-done standard that's been recorded by many jazz, pop, blues, and rock artists, including Asleep at the Wheel, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Depeche Mode, the Four Freshmen, Harry James, Louis Jordan, Nancy Sinatra, and Them. It may be, however, that the most famous rock version of the song is by the Rolling Stones, who did such an R&B-rock-oriented interpretation on their first album that it was hard to realize that the tune had ever been anything but a rock number. Although originally presented to the public as more of a jazz-pop item when it was written in the 1940s, the Rolling Stones had learned the song from a rock cover by Chuck Berry, who put it on his 1961 New Juke Box Hits album. Certainly the Stones' version sounds very much like their other early Berry covers in approach, starting off with a sharp, memorable mini-drum roll from Charlie Watts. Too, the lyrics -- a travelogue of Route 66 in which numerous major and minor American cities are named -- fit in well with the early Stones' general obsession with all things American. The guitars grunt, chug, and sting along well with Mick Jagger's confident vocal, the band stop-starting dramatically during the bridge to add extra urgency. "Route 66" was one of the best songs on the Rolling Stones' debut album, and one of their most popular in-concert numbers on their early tours. They cut a raw, faster live version in March 1965 that ended up on the Got Live If You Want It! EP in the UK and the December's Children album in the States, and other live concert and BBC versions of the song from the mid-1960s circulate on bootlegs. In his memoir Nankering with the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Phelge, who shared an apartment with several of the Rolling Stones right before the group's rise to fame, passed on the amusing story of how the band learned the lyrics to "Route 66" from a Perry Como album of his.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Rolling Stones (England's Newest Hit Makers) 1964 ABKCO Records 2:21
No Image 1996 Midnight Beat 3:46
The Rolling Stones/Undercover 1999 Rolling Stones Records
Remastered Series 2004 ABKCO Records 2:40
The Rolling Stones 1964-1969 [Vinyl Box Set] 2010 ABKCO Records / Universal Distribution 2:21
Charlie Is My Darling: Ireland 1965 2012 ABKCO Records 2:44
GRRR! 2012 ABKCO Records 0:00