On a rattlesnake speedway in the Utah Desert
I pick up my money and head back into town
Driving across the Waynesboro County Line
I've got the radio on and I'm just killing time

Working all day in my daddy's garage
Driving all night chasing some mirage
Pretty soon, little girl, I'm gonna take charge

Well the dogs on Main Street howl cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man
And I believe in a promised land

I've done my best to live the right way
I get up in the morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak I just wanna explode

Explode, and tear this whole town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Pretty soon, I'll be itching for something to start

Well the dogs on Main Street howl, cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man
And I believe in a promised land

There's a dark cloud rising on the desert floor
I've packed my bags and I'm headed straight through the storm
It's gonna be a twister that'll blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground

Blow away, the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away, the dreams that break your heart
Blow away, the lies that leave you nothing but lost and broken hearted

Well the dogs on Main Street howl, cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man
And I believe in a promised land

Lyrics submitted by Flutter49

The Promised Land song meanings
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  • +1
    Song MeaningHaving driven across the Utah desert on more than one occasion while going to and from college in Salt Lake City not long after this song was written in the late '70s, I can imagine how a 20-something Springsteen was inspired by the dramatic view looking across what was once a gigantic prehistoric lake. Today it's mostly "salt flats" - the dried–up lake bottom gives off a whitish hue that seems to go on forever.
    As our main character leaves the rattlesnake speedway (clearly this is a dangerous place where if your not careful, you'll end up getting "bit" -you'll lose your money in a drag race to someone who's not afraid to do whatever it takes to win) he has a lonely trip back to town where he clearly feels "trapped." He's probably lived there his whole life and was expected to do "what your daddy's done" (see another song about the American Dream unrealized, The River, 1980) but as he's grown from son/boy to now adult, he makes it clear to his "little girl" - his girlfriend and probably the only person in his small-town world whom he feels would understand and actually support his dream of "taking charge" and leaving his family, friends and job for a place where he would have a better chance to be successful. That place is his "Promised Land" - where people who have done their "best to live the right way and get up every morning and go to work each day" actually get rewarded with opportunities: to get married, to buy a house, to have kids, and to afford nice things and take vacations - in short, "The American Dream." If he doesn't leave soon, he's afraid "his eyes will go blind and his blood will run cold" in other words, he'll lose the ability to imagine a different future for himself and just give up and accept his lot in life. The line "I packed my bags and I'm headed straight into the storm" reveals that he is serious about leaving and never coming back because he's taking his belongings with him. The powerful storm or "twister" he describes is all the things that have kept him trapped in this small-town life up to this point - the expectations of family and friends - the lack of opportunities in terms of education and employment - and the friction his leaving would cause those people who don't have the "faith" in themselves and their dreams and are unwilling to believe that there is anything better outside their small-town comfort zone. His faith allows him to stand his ground when his family and friends inevitably try to discourage him from leaving. Clearly, the "twister" has kept others from believing in a Promised Land where the American Dream can come true, but he sees it as a type of cleansing - by heading toward the storm rather than away from it, he shows that faith can overcome the fears that are causing others to have their dreams "blown away." In contrast, by weathering the storm with faith, the only things he loses are those lies that have kept him "lost and brokenhearted" - and therefore unable to follow his path to a better place, his land of hope and dreams, The Promised Land.
    Surfcowon September 11, 2013   Link

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