66/55

wrote this in 1996 on a chicago to peoria drive.

shirley got electricity back in 1939
kept the milk from spoiling and rotting right there on the vine
just so happened when i drove through
shirley said she didn’t but i knew that she knew
all that power wasn’t flowing through the lines

normal had its heyday back in 1945
almost ½ the town had made it back ½ alive
and there was a house or two for every boy and girl
they had all just beaten back the enemy of that world
and all that government money made it easy to survive

the straightest shot became a straighter line
when 66 became 55
you can see it every time you go for a drive
66 became 55

mclean didn’t care for kennedy back in 1959
still, they circled chicago with a highway and called it the dan ryan
shirley & normal thought they’d never need another road
‘cause they said that 6 lane highway could carry any load
and shirley and normal forgot what it meant to stop at a light

66 became 55

they put a cyclone in the center of town
they fought for all those parking spots from miles around
seventy-five feet high and a mile and a quarter around
all that light, all that color, all that sound

now shirley went all l.a. and normal wants to be las vegas
so jackpot boats float down the river where huck finn said “big jim saved us.”
and there is a coin or two for every girl and boy
if you think you earned it, it could not have been a ploy
you know that story. it’s old. ’cause history never changed it

the straightest shot became a straighter line
when 66 became 55
you can see it every time you go for a drive
hey, 66 became 55

66 is off to the side
because it’s the service road of 55
½ the town
is ½ alive

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