Mister Boomer has been in a bit of a lethargic funk lately. While pursuing strategies to kick out his mood, he realized that we don’t hear phrases that use the word “kick” as much as we did in the boomer years.
Back then, you could get “kicked to the curb” by your best girl. No boomer wanted that. On the other hand, you could be “kickin’ it” with your friends. Or, you could “kick-start” your day with a bowl of Kix cereal, from General Mills. Usage and meaning ran the gamut: we “got our kicks” and in turn, we were “kicked in the seat of the pants,” among other sayings. It became part of the vernacular, so naturally, versions made their way into our music. So “kick back” and enjoy this little memory jog. Here are a few that come to mind:
Ain’t That a Kick in the Head – Dean Martin, 1960
The song was written for and featured in the Rat Pack film, Ocean’s 11, but Dean Martin’s single 45 RPM was released before the film. It actually failed to chart, but became associated with Dean Martin for years after. The song and phrase reiterate that there was crossover in the early years from our parents’ generation into both the music of the era and speech. The early 1960s would have Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Brenda Lee, The Shirelles and Jan & Dean played on the same radio station.
(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 — Chuck Berry 1961
Bobby Troup wrote the song in 1946, and it was first recorded by Nat King Cole that year. Chuck Berry’s version followed in1961; The Rolling Stones released their version in 1964.
It was indeed, a song about the fabled highway.
When the Route 66 TV show aired in 1960, the producers decided on an instrumental theme song to avoid paying royalties to Bobby Troup. Nelson Riddle was asked to write the show’s theme as an instrumental, which bore no resemblance to the original. Talk about getting kicked out of a gig.
Kicks — Paul Revere & the Raiders, 1966
At the beginning of an era of heavy drug use and abuse, this song had an anti-drug message. Here, “kicks” referred to drug use:
And don’t it seem like
Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
And all your kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind
Before you find out it’s too late, girl, you better get straight
No, but not with kicks
Kick Out the Jams — MC5, 1969
Controversial because the lead singer opened the song by finishing the phrase, “Kick out the jams,” with a popular swear word — but only on the album — the hard-driving song nonetheless “done kicked ’em out.”
These four songs spanned a decade, and could not be further apart in their musical genres. The one link between them is “kick.”
How about you, boomers? How did “kick” find its way into your boomer life?