Similar Ingredients [#5] – William Tyler/Bruce Springsteen

Songs with certain similarities – either musical, lyrical, historical, cultural, and/or all of these things.
=”A Portrait of Sarah” (by William Tyler) 2013=

Tyler is one of the new breed of fleet-fingered instrumental guitarists rooted in the “Takoma school” of playing (Leo Kottke, John Fahey, etc.).  His latest album, Impossible Truth, is full of spacious travelogue soundscapes. He’s also a big fan of the 1971 movie Two Lane Blacktop, as this video shows.  An homage to the film, it condenses the plot into less than eight minutes (granted, the original film wasn’t large on plot to begin with). I especially like the reference to 1970’s British music TV show “The Old Grey Whistle Test” as “The Earl Grey Drizzle Fest”…

=”Racing in the Street” (by Bruce Springsteen) 1978=

This song by Springsteen doesn’t sound anything like Tyler’s, but it’s subject matter is akin to Two Lane Blacktop. Two guys build and race muscle cars for money in 1970’s America, travelling from town to town. The narrator, who’s the driver, meets a girl at one of the races.  I see the next part of the song as a sort of “what might have happened” to the characters in Two Lane Blacktop years down the line. Older and a bit battered from life’s hard knocks, they make an attempt to relive that past glory of their younger, racing years – if only for a night.

You can watch all of Two Lane Blacktop on Youtube. It stars a young James Taylor and Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, though strangely there was no music soundtrack released. It’s a bit slow, but a good abstract road movie, as well as a time capsule of the era.

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