‘Route 66’ The Rolling Stones 1964 Classic: Music Memories

drive empty highway lane
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Imagine being a young kid in a still seemingly stuffy mid 1960s Britain. Anyone would think that even sex hadn’t been truly invented until this wild decade came along. Some of my earliest memories are of fresh, new, exciting sounds over the radio — and two emerging British rock bands in particular.

So you were either a Beatles or a Stones fan, right? Well, I liked them both. I remember when the Rolling Stones eponymous 1964 album (Decca) arrived in our little household and was put on our cheap mono turntable. I was immediately transfixed by the music.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t really know whether the Stones were British or not. My mother certainly did not like the look of them! She preferred the Beatles, particularly John Lennon‘s humour.

Route 66? And what’s Rhythm and Blues?

I didn’t know what rhythm and blues was either. I just liked what I heard and played that record until it was virtually worn out! My favourite track, and still one of my favourite Stones songs, is ‘Route 66‘.

Written by Bobby Troup, this was also my first real exposure to the idea of America and Americana in music, about travel for travelling’s sake, not an easy concept to grasp when you are born and bred in an obscure town in eastern England which was so conservative it seemed like Queen Victoria had never vacated the throne.

Evocative Rhythm and Place Names

I was especially entranced by the surging rhythm, evoking movement and travel, but also by the names of towns, cities and states along that famous route. Even now when I here the word ‘St Louis’ or ‘Missouri’, for example, it sends my imagination flying just as it did back then. Sad to say that I have still to actually set foot in the hallowed United States. The nearest I have been is viewing Buffalo across the Canadian Niagara Falls.

So my views have changed a bit over the years. Conservatism and tradition do indeed have a place after all, although I still have very fond memories of that crazy time, particularly the mid 60s, when the Stones were playing American covers so brilliantly.

Of course, messrs Jagger and Richards went on to be great song writers in their own right. Nevertheless, the Stones’ take on this classic, especially influenced by the purist insistence of the late great Brian Jones who did so much to create this superb band, has more than stood the test of time.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

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