With people traveling home today for Thanksgiving, it seemed like a good time to feature “Exit Number 9” in the 350 Jersey songs series. The title of the song, as most New Jerseyans could tell you, refers to the New Jersey Turnpike’s exit for New Brunswick, the city where singer-songwriter Glen Burtnik‘s musical roots are. “I got no illusions ’bout what I might be missing/And I ain’t looking further for the things I need/’Cause I know who I am and I look out for what’s mine/And all roads lead me home to Exit Number 9,” he sings.
Though a mainstay of the Garden State music scene, Burtnik has actually had a lot of success beyond the state’s borders: He’s co-written hits for Patty Smyth and Don Henley (“Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough”), Randy Travis (“Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man”) and Jo Dee Messina (“Delicious Surprise”), and toured the world as a member of Styx.
Burtnik recorded “Exit Number 9” with the Slaves of New Brunswick, an all-star group of Hub City musicians, for their 1991 self-titled album. The album also contains “Girls I Grew Up With,” which Burtnik segues into in the version below — a live performance for Rich Russo’s radio show, “Anything Anything,” which is heard Sunday nights on WDHA (105.5 FM), WRAT (95.9 FM) and other stations.
Four decades or so into his career, Burtnik continues to be one of New Jersey’s busiest musicians, involved in a million different projects. In just the last two weeks, for instance, he’s led the house bands at the New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, and the all-star “Last Waltz” tribute concert at Monmouth University in West Long Branch.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. The complete list is here.