The Knoxville Metro Pulse has an interesting article on the enduring popularity of the 1958 Robert Mitchum movie, Thunder Road, celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year.
It has been called the Hillbilly Gone With the Wind, mainly based on its incredible durability on the big screens of the Southern Appalachians. Its status throughout American culture is almost mythical, claimed as an inspiration for the title of one of Bruce Springsteen’s early hits and the design of the Batmobile in the iconic ‘60s TV series. The movie’s plot has nothing obvious to do with the story of the Springsteen song “Thunder Road,” but it seems to have a lot to do with a much-later hit song by Steve Earle called “Copperhead Road.”
I’ve never seen the film, although this piece made we really want to. It did prompt me to dig up “The Ballad of Thunder Road,” written and sung by Mitchum himself. Man, they just don’t make this kind of song anymore. I’ve made it a double feature with Steve Earle’s classic, “Copperhead Road,” possibly inspired by the film and another great example of storytelling in song.
Anyone know where I can get an MP3 of “The Ballad of Thunder Road”? Amazon sells seven cover versions, but not, alas, the original. [Update: Found it.]
Anyway, take a pull off your jug of moonshine and enjoy.