I must begin with an apology. I kind of extended my vacation for a few extra days this weekend, and neglected to post a Stagger Lee Saturday. I even had the song already uploaded, and just kept putting it off till it was Sunday morning, and too late. I hope this week of posts I have planned will make it up to y'all.
So this year my family's vacation was to the Great American Southwest. We saw Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, The Grand Canyon, and a tiny part of "The Main Street Of America," Route 66. The classic song commemorating this road was written by Bobby Troup, inspired unsurprisingly by a trip on the highway. It was first recorded in 1946 by The Nat King Cole Trio (wiki fansite AMG) and has since been covered by scores of other artists. I've amassed 18 versions, and cut those somewhat randomly down to 9 for this post. (Upon request, I'll post the other nine some other Monday.)
First, we hear the original version, with its smooth, jazzy piano. I've been digging on Nat King Cole a lot lately, though he's not the type of thing I post much on this blog. Joe Turner's (wiki AMG) 1971 performance turns the song into a swingin' jump blues, a lot like the late 50's "race" records I love so much. (In fact, I made it the second version in this mix before I did my research, since it sounds so late-50s to me.) Chuck Berry's (official wiki AMG) 1961 version served, as so many of his records did, as a template for a Rolling Stones (official wiki AMG) cover, in 1964. Then, we hear from an obscure Ohio garage band, The Alarm Clocks (official AMG), who credit the song to the Stones two years later.
Enough rock for now. Al Jarreau (official wiki AMG) uses some sound effects in his otherwise a capella version of the song, from 2002. After that palate cleanser, we hear Asleep At The Wheel's (official wiki AMG) lovely 1976 boogie-woogie version, followed by a version I'm not so proud of.
Natalie Cole is a shameless grave-excavating ghoul, to be sure. But when I was listening to this collection at work last week, I still enjoyed her version for its musical merits. I kind of like this, even though I would never admit it to her face. (This song also has the distinction of being heard many times a day in Disney's California Adventure.)
Finally, another Disney-related song. For use in Pixar's world-endingly-popular 2006 film Cars (also inspired by a trip across the country, incidentally), they hired Atlanta's own John Mayer (official wiki AMG) to record his own rocking version of the song, and I love it so much it ends this collection.
As usual, I've uploaded individual files in addition to a complete zip, which I recommend for ease of downloading. But I must add a final word of warning to all: Do not play this collection as driving music. You WILL get a speeding ticket.