Building it

printTake a Detour ... to the Stars

Telling About It—in Song

Answer key:


1.Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry

C. "New Jersey Turnpike in the wee, wee hours
I was rolling slowly ’cause of drizzling showers."

St. Louis-born rock and roll icon Chuck Berry sang about riding down the Turnpike in an "Airmobile" in the 1956 song, “You Can’t Catch Me,” which celebrates speed and freedom.


2.Simon & Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel

D. "I'm empty and aching and I don’t know why.
Countin' the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all come to look for America."

In 1968’s “America,” folk-rock duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel sang of travelers seeking answers on the New Jersey Turnpike.


3. Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Sprinsteen

B. "New Jersey Turnpike
Ridin’ on a wet night
’Neath the refinery’s glow
Out where the great black rivers flow."

New Jersey native rocker Bruce Springsteen spelled out one man’s isolation amidst an industrial Turnpike landscape in 1982's “State Trooper.”


4. Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson

A. "Well I was rollin' wheels and shiftin' gears
'Round that Jersey Turnpike
When Barney stopped with his gun
Ten minutes after midnight

Said 'Sir you broke the limit in that rusty ol' truck
I don't know about that accent son
Just where do you come from?'"

In 2000, Country-Western star Alan Jackson defined his country roots in contrast to the Turnpike in "Where I Come From."



Others have also told of the Turnpike in music: Laurie Anderson, in “New Jersey Turnpike;” Brian McCann’s “Vince Lombardi Service Area;” Niki Lee’s “My Garden State”—and then there’s the story of reggae superstar Bob Marley. According to Roger Steffens (founding editor of The Beat, who e-mailed the Historical Society with this story in 2000), Marley spent many hours driving along the Turnpike. Those hours inspired him to write “Rainbow Country.” Here’s what Steffens had to say:

“Bob, his secretary, Yvet Crichton, and his friend Lee Jaffe, a white film-maker/musician who plays harmonica on Bob’s solo album debut ‘Natty Dread,’ often drove together from Delaware [where Marley’s mother lived] to New York City, where Bob’s record label was headquartered. They took the Jersey Turnpike on these trips, and would pass the time by improvising songs in the car. According to Lee, the original title was ‘Highway Riding.’ The lyrics also include the words ‘Irie riding.’ Irie is a Jamaican term that is the rough equivalent of ‘groovy,’ and also means ‘higher.’ After Bob’s passing in 1981, demo tapes of ‘Rainbow Country’ surfaced and were first issued as unauthorized bootlegs of 12” singles . . . it would be quite fair to say that the Jersey Turnpike was the direct inspiration behind ‘Rainbow Country.’”