Route 66 #1

Route 66 #1
Route 66 Museum

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Where the Record Meets the Road

When I got my new record player for Christmas last year and saw that it could play 78's I knew that it would open up a whole new world for me. In many ways 78's are almost indicative of the big band era. At that time 45's were something that belonged in a jukebox and 33's although in existence by the 1940's were as common as DVDs were in 1995. So on the home scene 78's were pretty much the format of choice, and that dated back to the time when 78's replaced the first wax cylinders of recorded music.

Initially for me 78's weren't that easy to find. For the most part they where and somewhat still are pretty rare birds to find in thrift stores and resell shops. As for my local brick-and-mortar record store he has 78's but they are located in bins on the floor that are almost impossible to navigate due to the fact that there are so many 78's stuffed into them.

For me the pain resulting from the inability to find 78's was only worsened by the memory of having given away all my grandmothers 78's after she had died. Many of these 78's were from the big band era and had some pretty great songs on them. But as the saying goes "if hindsight or 20/20". 

So as usual I found myself heading to eBay to find records that I really wanted. But the question became what song and/or what artist did I want to have in my collection first?

Being both a vinyl record enthusiasts and a Route 66 enthusiasts, as you know from reading my blogs, the answer came to me pretty quickly. The song I had to have on 78' was Route 66 by The Nat King Cole Trio.

The song or this particular version of it is the one that inspired me the most to someday travel the route. This version by The Nat King Cole Trio, was made following the war and filled with the optimism the US had in the late 1940's. It was a song about traveling and discovering the United States as a whole. This version was made in an era when Route 66 was in its heyday and when the United States seemed to look towards the west specifically California and the Los Angeles area as the places to be and where hope could be found for the future. The Nat King Cole Trio delivers the song with such an incredibly upbeat feel good tempo that there's no way you can't possibly enjoy this particular version. There is also no way that you can deny the urge to travel Route 66 after you hear this version of the song.

You see this version was actually the first big time the song Route 66 was performed. The song itself was only a few months old by the time it was handed over to The Nat King Cole Trio. It's writer Bobby Troup although known for sometimes performing his own works decided that he would give this song to The Nat King Cole Trio, who had achieved a great deal of success with their unique sound towards the end of World War II and immediately following the war. If you want to know more history about Bobby Troup and how the song was originally written please see my article ( To say the least Troup's choice to allow someone else to record it led to the song becoming a huge success. 

Although the Nat King Cole Trio would popularize the song and bring it to the top of the charts they would not be the last artist to do so. The Rolling Stones, and even more recently John Mayer would be just a few of the many artists to remake the song and keep it fresh with American and even international audiences.

As for the actual record itself that I received it took me some time to get used to the way a 78 sounds. The song does sound quite good but I do believe that the needle arm and needle itself on my record player may perhaps be too light for the 78. Both the 45's and 33's have sounded phenomenal on this little record player but the 78 for some reason sounds a bit off and/or even a bit distant. Having studied 78's and having seen them being played in many a black-and-white movie I do believe that there might be something to the fact that this needle is just a little too light for 78's. 

Overall though I am extremely happy to have Route 66 by The Nat King Cole Trio as the first 78 enter my collection. Now if I could only find a second one that I could put under glass and hang on my wall.

If you're reading this on my Route 66 blog be sure to check out my vinyl record blog at

And if you're reading this on my vinyl record blog be sure to check out my Route 66 blog at

Thank you again for reading!

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