‘Pompton Turnpike,’ Louis Jordan and His Tympany 5

Louis Jordan and His Tympani 5 recorded "Pompton Turnpike" ion 1940.

Louis Jordan and His Tympany 5 recorded “Pompton Turnpike” ion 1940.

In the YouTube video below, at the 1:10 mark, the immortal Louis Jordan starts singing an ode to a rather nondescript Jersey road:

Pompton Turnpike
That’s a very famous Jersey roadway
Full of country charm.
Pompton Turnpike
Leads you to a place not far from Broadway,
Still it’s on a farm.
You dine with lights subdued,
The music interlude
Puts you right in the mood
To dance and find yourself romance.
Pompton Turnpike
Ride your bike or if you like just hitchhike,
Come to Pompton Turnpike

Why is he rhapsodizing in this way? The answer is pretty simple. The turnpike — which doesn’t exist anymore, but included parts of what are now Bloomfield Avenue, Route 23 and other roads — led to the Meadowbrook Ballroom in Cedar Grove, a popular big band nightclub of the 1930s and 1940s. The Meadowbrook, located on what is now Pompton Avenue, reinvented itself many times before closing for good in 1984.

Jordan’s recording is from 1940. The song, written by Dick Rogers and Will Osborne, was recorded by many other artists as well, including, most famously, saxophonist and bandleader Charlie Barnet, in a hit instrumental version.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking 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. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until late in the summer.

If you would like to suggest any songs to be included, please let me know in the comments section underneath the video. And if you want to see the entire list, either alphabetically or in the order the songs were selected, click here.

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