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Savoy Orpheans: Tamiami Trail

March 16, 2010

Savoy Orpheans
Tamiami Trail

Recorded in 1926

Here’s a London band playing a song about the newly opened road from Tampa to Miami. You can still drive the Tamiami Trail, by the way: it’s U.S. 41, and it goes through some extraordinary jungle filled with alligators and epiphytic orchids and bromeliads. In the 1920s, a road built through the Everglades was an engineering marvel, certainly worth being ephemerally immortalized in song.

Years ago, the Tampa Tribune printed the lyrics of this song. I used to sing it while I drove the forgotten back roads of Florida, and though I’ve long since lost the clipping I can still sing the chorus, which I reproduce from memory:

Soon I’ll wander down the Tamiami Trail,
Tamiami Trail,
Where it leads down to the sea.

There is where the sun is shining daily:
Every little peach
Sitting on the beach
Strumming on a ukelele.

I’ll build a two-by-four just for my baby and me:
I mean a brand-new bamboo bungalow without fail.

Any wonder why I want to settle down,
I’m going to settle down,
On the Tamiami Trail?

The band is enthusiastic, one of the few British dance bands of the era that could match the better class of American bands. (The golden age of British dance bands would start a few years later.) The record is one of the stack I brought back from London in my carry-on luggage; it came from a pile in a junk shop off the Portobello Road.

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