Reluctantly crouched at the starting line
Engines pumping and thumping in time
The green light flashes, the flags go up
Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup
They deftly maneuver and muscle for rank
Fuel burning fast on an empty tank
Reckless and wild, they pour through the turns
Their prowess is potent and secretly stern

As they speed through the finish, the flags go down
The fans get up and they get out of town
The arena is empty except for one man
Still driving and striving as fast as he can
The sun has gone down and the moon has come up
And long ago somebody left with the cup
But he's driving and striving and hugging the turns
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns

He's going the distance
He's going for speed
She's all alone
In her time of need

Because he's racing and pacing and plotting the course
He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse
He's going the distance
No trophy, no flowers, no flashbulbs, no wine
He's haunted by something he cannot define
Bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse
Assail him, impale him with monster-truck force
In his mind, he's still driving, still making the grade

She's hoping in time that her memories will fade
Cause he's racing and pacing and plotting the course
He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse
The sun has gone down and the moon has come up
And long ago somebody left with the cup
But he's striving and driving and hugging the turns
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns

'Cause he's going the distance
He's going for speed
She's all alone
In her time of need

Because he's racing and pacing and plotting the course
He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse
He's racing and pacing and plotting the course
He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse

He's going the distance
He's going for speed
He's going the distance



Lyrics submitted by kevin

"The Distance" as written by Gavin Brown, Casey Marshall, Jay Mc Groarty

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, BUG MUSIC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind


The Distance song meanings
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153 Comments

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  • +8
    General Comment:I think the song is painting the picture of corporate america work-a-holics. A man is working longer and harder than everyone else, even though someone else is already reaping the rewards. He works, works, and works, ignoring his wife, who he loves very much but can't find the time for. As a result, she has left him and hopes her memories of her time with him will fade, making the pain easier to bare.
    MKORSUon August 28, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:i think that this song is about a guy who really likes a girl and he is spending all this time and effort trying to win her affections. maybe they were together before and she had a bad experience ("she's hoping in time her memories will fade") but he still wants her and he is so busy trying to win her that he doesn't even realize his window of opportunity is gone (" and long ago somebody left with the cup"). Maybe she has already found someone else. it sounds to me like he lost her b/c he was so busy concentrating on what he thought that she wanted that she was "all alone in her time of need".
    dxdragonetteon April 25, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:I'm not sure it has anything to do with anything except a man who can't admit failure. Almost an obsessive-compulsive tone to the whole thing. He's so wrapped up in doing what he's doing to the disturbed standards hes's set in his own mind that he refuses to see things for what they really are... over.
    jobo5432on July 07, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Alot of people ask why John Writes alot of songs about cars, the truth is that most songs (and this one in particular) are about control and power. The video has no cars in it for a reason. The speaker is talking about a person that is climbing the corperate ladder.

    God Bless Todd Roper :P
    MorningStaron March 27, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:it always struck me as all consuming obsession. for instance:
    ...
    He's going for speed
    She's all alone (all alone) all alone in a time of need
    ...
    looks like someone who is engulfed by regret, and obsessed with some unattainable (probaly pyric) goal to the exclusion of everything else including loved ones in need.
    SCIFIon May 31, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:many thanks to kevin for contributing this, however, in the interest of compleatness there are a few corrections;

    "not long ago somebody left with the cup"
    should read
    "AND long ago somebody left with the cup"

    also the line
    "Assail him and bail him with monster truck force"
    should read
    "assail him, IMPALE him, with monster truck force"

    once again, this is not to pick on kevin, more then once i've been supprised by lyric, after reciting them incorrectly for years at a time. it's simply an interest in a compleat understanding of the song
    SCIFIon June 09, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Reluctantly crouched at the starting line
    Engines pumping and thumping in time
    The green light flashes, the flags go up
    Churning and burning they yearn for the cup

    >Opening can be understood as any social gathering where men compete for females and "their cup" as if it a trophy. Evolutionary biology concurs by citing in "Sperm Wars" the evidence of men's pursuits are driven by the same spark as their seeds.

    They deftly maneuver and muscle for rank
    Fuels burning fast on an empty tank
    Reckless and wild, they pour through the turns
    Their prowess is Potent and secretly stern

    >This part indicates the typical American contest for females where "status" by image validation (what car you own, how much you make etc) has been learned by the females as the marks of a good catch. Character, valor, heroic action and all the traditional qualities of masculinity are ignored and written off as an anachronism.


    As they speed through the finish, the flags go down
    The fans get up and they get out of town

    >As time passes, people pair off and lose contact with single living and the social events, where finding a loving woman is the main event for men, is now over in the form which they once knew.


    The arena is empty except for one man
    Still driving and striving as fast as he can

    >Most will understand the image provoked by the saying "old maid". There is no common image or equivalent saying for men who are holding out for the right girl.

    The sun has gone down and the moon has come up
    Not long ago somebody left with the cup
    But he's driving and striving an hugging the turns
    And thinking of someone for who he still burns

    >This mans energy and passion has not been diminished over time unlike women who nature has a limited time in which to procreate. If he has taken good care of himself his virility remains as potent and strong as when he was a young man.

    He's going the distance
    He's going for speed
    She's all alone, all alone, all alone in a time of need
    Because he's racing and pacing and plotting the course
    He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse
    He's going the distance

    > the meaning of the song, at least in this general interpretation, is here made clear by expressing the fundamental differences in men's approach to finding a complimentary matching spirit in a spouse and womens approach to bestowing herself to the lucky winner.


    No trophies, no flowers, no flashbulbs, no line
    He's haunted by something he cannot define
    Bowel shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse
    Assail him impale him with monster truck force
    In his mind he's still driving, still making the grade

    >He questions his past decisions and wonders if he should have settled for a past love. Perhaps he let the best opportunities slip through his fingers, or maybe he saved himself from a one sided relationship where he is the giver, and she is the taker in all things.

    She's hoping in time that her memories will fade
    'Cause he's racing and pacing and plotting the course
    He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse

    She in this instance has no "bowel shaking" "earth quaking" passion for the opposite sex. To her, the pursuits of her are in the past and because reminders make her uncomfortable, she hopes they will one day be forgotten. These memories from her point of view are on the same level as if he was an accessory like a purse, or shiny car, that she didn't buy.

    The sun has gone down and the moon has come up

    >This line is important and best understood under the traditional symbolic genders associated with the moon and the sun.

    Not long ago somebody left with the cup
    But he's striving and driving and hugging the turns
    And thinking of someone for who he still burns
    'Cause he's going the distance,
    He's going for speed
    She's all alone
    All alone
    All alone
    In a time of need

    >He is actively pursing in contrast to "she" who is passively accepting suitors to try and win her. In her time of need she makes her self available. The man hopes this is not true of all women, but since he can not define the fear, he remains hopeful and active in his search.

    Because he's racing and pacing and plotting the course
    He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse
    He's racing and pacing and plotting the course
    He's fighting and biting and ridding on his horse
    He's going the distance
    He's going for speed
    He's going the distance
    illuminator4tardson July 12, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:actually missprotein i believe you've missed the point of SongMEANINGS.com like the millions of other blundering idiots on here who understand poetry and 'between the lines' reading at a preteen level. illuminator4tards's username approch to this site is appropriate and he has made a great contribution in decrypting what i would think to have been a 'lite' song.

    Admittedly i still read this song in its literal text. But while this song describes cars, or racing in general the central theme of this song is already given away in the title "The Distance", being about uncompromised effort, struggle and achievement. Themes of personal and emotional struggle are evident aswell with the "girl being alone in her time of need" and "the man still hugging the turns after sundown and moonup with the cup competition long over". Fantastic instrumentation aswell. As i read this song literally and illuminator4tards has already beat me to it, i'll restrain from givina an indepth analysis. The main point in this post is actually to defend an intellect from the blunderin idiot masses.

    Regardless i still love the idea of doing hill runs to this song!
    Decrypteron August 19, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Dragonnette had the meaning close.
    When this song first became a hit on the radio. The singer was interviewed about the songs success.

    And was asked what the song was about?..... John said, "it was a story about a guy that had great desire for a woman, and badly wanted a relationship with her. But the Guy is to shy to "Go the Distance", "or go that extra step to let this woman know that he had feelings for her.
    And in a twist of fate another guy comes along and sweeps her off her feet. The original guy then misses his chance". The song is about his feelings of what he misses out on.

    The interviewer then asking John, of rumors of the song being directly related to him and the song is actually about an experience he onced lived?
    Where there was a long pause from John, and he said (very timidly) "Whell, I'm not really going to say whether there is any truth in that or not"


    Its probably fair to say the Song 'Frank Sinatra' (a cover song) is borrowed for its meaning of his anger and resentment (with in himself no-doubt) of this incident.
    KustomCandyon April 11, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:@KustomKandy and @Dragonette

    Bullseye! Here's an excerpt from Rolling Stone's (RS.com) interview with Greg Brown who wrote the song and explains its meaning. He also explains about why the race car metaphor is used.

    RS.COM: Will the success of The Distance" mean you'll be writing more songs?

    GREG BROWN: Man, I sure hope so. I was delighted that John was receptive to it, because he's been writing songs for a long time. It was the only song I wrote to appear on the record. I'm really happy with it. John did a great vocal track. Victor (Damiani) put down a good bass line, and Vincent (di Fiore) came up with a cool trumpet part.

    RS.COM: What's the song about?

    GB: I wrote it about a relationship of mine. It's about a guy who races and races, even after the race is over. He's basically clueless. I used the race car metaphor so it wouldn't be so sentimental ... it seemed apt.

    RS.COM:Is sarcasm a difficult device to pull off in song writing?

    GB: Well, I'm not a sarcastic guitarist, but it's pretty recurrent in our songs. John uses it probably for the same reason I used the race car metaphor in "Distance": to basically distance himself from the song.
    tweedletweeton April 14, 2009   Link

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