"(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66", often rendered simply as "Route 66", is a popular song and rhythm and blues standard, composed in 1946 by American songwriter Bobby Troup. It was first recorded in the same year by Nat King Cole, and was subsequently covered by many artists including Chuck Berry in 1961 and The Rolling Stones in 1964. The song's lyrics follow the path of the U.S. Route 66 highway, which used to run a large distance across the US, going from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. The title was suggested to Troup by his first wife, Cynthia.
Troup conceived the idea for the song while driving west from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles, California, and the lyrics — which include references to the U.S. highway of the title and many of the cities it passes through — celebrate the romance and freedom of automobile travel. In an interview he once said the tune for the song, as well as the lyric "Get your kicks on Route 66" came to him easily, but the remainder of the lyrics eluded him. More in frustration than anything else he simply filled up the song with the names of towns and cities on the highway.
The lyrics read as a mini-travelogue about the major stops along the route, listing several cities and towns that Route 66 passes through. Specifically mentioned, in order, are St. Louis, Missouri; Joplin, Missouri; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Amarillo, Texas; Gallup, New Mexico; Flagstaff, Arizona; Winona, Arizona; Kingman, Arizona; Barstow, California; and San Bernardino, California. Winona is the only town out of sequence in the list. It was a very small settlement east of Flagstaff, and might indeed have been forgotten if not for the song's lyric, "Don't forget Winona", written to rhyme with "Flagstaff, Arizona."
The 2006 Disney/Pixar film Cars portrays the legendary road, Route 66 as a spectacle of the United States. In doing so, the film's soundtrack includes the popular Chuck Berry version and the Grammy nominated "update version" by modern blues rock artist John Mayer.
The 2006 film RV features the song, sung by the cast (Robin Williams, Cheryl Hines, Joanna 'JoJo' Levesque, Josh Hutcherson, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Chenoweth, Hunter Parrish, Chloe Sonnenfeld, Alex Ferris) as the closing credits are run.