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Karaoke English: Get Your Kicks on Route 66!

English Cafe 108 talks about the famous Route 66, a highway that goes from Chicago to Los Angeles. In the Cafe, I mention a song called “Get Your Kicks on Route 66,” originally performed by Nat King Cole.

In searching YouTube, I found an original version (performance) by the great Nat King Cole himself. Cole had one of the most wonderful voices in American pop music of the 20th century. Listen and see if you don’t agree. I’ve put the lyrics below so you can understand him better.

Here are the lyrics:
If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way,
Take the highway that’s the best –
Get your kicks on Route 66.It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route 66.Now you go through Saint Looey
Joplin, Missouri,
and Oklahoma City is mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona.
Don’t forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino.

Won’t you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66.

Won’t you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66.
Come on in — get your kicks on Route 66.
Get your kicks on Route 66.

In the first stanza (section) of the song, it says “If you plan to motor west.” To motor is an older expression meaning to drive in a car, to take a trip in a car. The singer is recommending that you take Route 66. “To get your kicks” is explained more in the podcast. Next the song says, “It winds from Chicago to LA.” This is the verb to wind, meaning that that Route 66 isn’t a straight line, but curves as it moves across the country. To wind rhymes with “mind” and “kind.” Don’t confuse this verb with the noun, wind. Wind is what happens when the air blows in a certain direction, and the noun wind rhymes with “sinned” (the “i” short, like the “i” in him).

Saint Looey is slang for Saint Louis, a large city in the state of Missouri. The song mentions several of the cities, big and small, that are on Route 66. Then it says, “Won’t you get hip to this timely tip.” To get hip to is an old expression, popular in the 1940s and 1950s, meaning to become informed about something, to get information about something, to become aware of something. Timely means useful, coming right at the right time, not too late.

~Jeff

4 Responses to “Karaoke English: Get Your Kicks on Route 66!”

  1. Andrea Says:

    Wonderful song… but I prefer the Jeff McQuillan’s version :-)

  2. Oleg Says:

    Get your kicks listening to ESl podcasts B) ;)

  3. emiliano Says:

    Listen to Nat King Cole is a pleasure for everybody. It has one of the most beautifull voice that I can remeber also you may understand him so well that sometimes it looks as if you know english already.
    He was a great piano player but with so good voice and better english accent he has to sing instead of playing that instrument. Here in Spain all his spanish songs were hits, and many times I dance with “ansiedad” “mona lisa” el choclo” “noche de ronda” and many other of his songs. But at that time I did not understand any english word and couldn’t appreciate him as a perfect singer in his own language. His voice is like velvet, touch you softly as you dance.

    It should be so good to take that Route 66 and visiting all the citys and little towns mencioned in the song but we should need lots of money
    ……..Now I sing “If I were a rich man, doby doby doby dooo…………. If I were a welthy man”
    I bet every one to tell me where and who sings that song.
    Regards.

  4. Joselin Says:

    Of course man. This song comes from the famous musical “Fiddler on the Roof”. I understand your figurative transcription because im also spanish and it really sounds as you wrote it. Actually the lyric says “”If I were a rich man, Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.!”

    Regardning the Nat King Cole sonds, I remember “Muñequita Linda, de cabellos de oro…” with his strong English accent. Unforgettable

    Sal U2 (I bet you emiliano will understand this greeting).