I get up in the evening
and I ain't got nothing to say
I come home in the morning
I go to bed feeling the same way
I ain't nothing but tired
Man I'm just tired and bored with myself
Hey there baby, I could use just a little help

You can't start a fire
You can't start a fire without a spark
This gun's for hire
even if we're just dancing in the dark

Message keeps getting clearer
radio's on and I'm moving 'round the place
I check my look in the mirror
I want to change my clothes, my hair, my face
Man I ain't getting nowhere
I'm just living in a dump like this
There's something happening somewhere
baby I just know that there is

You can't start a fire
you can't start a fire without a spark
This gun's for hire
even if we're just dancing in the dark

You sit around getting older
there's a joke here somewhere and it's on me
I'll shake this world off my shoulders
come on baby this laugh's on me

Stay on the streets of this town
and they'll be carving you up alright
They say you gotta stay hungry
hey baby I'm just about starving tonight
I'm dying for some action
I'm sick of sitting 'round here trying to write this book
I need a love reaction
come on now baby gimme just one look

You can't start a fire sitting 'round crying over a broken heart
This gun's for hire
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
You can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart
This gun's for hire
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Hey baby

Lyrics submitted by oofus, edited by LeeScho

Dancing In The Dark song meanings
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  • +11
    My InterpretationDancing In The Dark is for Springsteen what The Fall of the House of Usher was for Poe. Springsteen and Poe are literary homeboys, in two different art forms, on account they both disguise the overall message of much of their work. The reader must consciously take note of what is truly being said, underneath the layers of their craftsmanship.

    Dancing In The Dark is Bruce at his melancholy brilliance; his impassioned outcry to search for some meaning, while around him, his life is a deteriorating wasteland. This was exactly the way it was for him in the early to middle 1980’s. He abhorred himself (...I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face...) because his struggle for perfection is, well, a struggle.

    What Bruce is doing here is NOTHING that all of us haven't experienced before. Underneath the disco/pop dance track is a confession of Bruce's dark and moody personality. It is not necessary to be a fan for Bruce’s writing in order to appreciate what he is going through. This can be any one of us at any given time in our lives. This song measures up to Bruce's great standard, with the best of them. It is one of the most highly misunderstood and underappreciated of all of his songs. It is misunderstood, by even diehard Bruce fans, because of the upbeat synth in the music. It is underappreciated because most people think it is a happy song. The music is fun. The video is beautiful and exciting and colorful. On the contrary, Bruce is extremely desperate for something good to happen in his personal life. He later confessed that at the time, he did not have a life. He only had a work life. (...I'm sick of sittin' ‘round here trying to write this book).

    He is reaching out for companionship. All the while, his soul is tortured by life's implications, failed personal relationships, isolation and despair. And so, he is, in effect ‘dancing in the dark’ or scrambling around in a dark world where there appears to be no meaning. His search and constant struggle for meaning finds him asking for someone to "give him just one look", but really hopes for human contact. Bruce touches on this theme on all kinds of songs. Years later, after his failed marriage, he will write Human Touch, another song filled with melancholia.

    Bruce has been searching for meaning and redemption since the beginning of his career, through all of his work. But, it wasn't until The River album (1980), where he came to the realization that his self-imposed isolation had to end for him to connect and have a real relationship with someone. That realization gained momentum with Dancing In The Dark, and hit its peak on the Human Touch album. The song Human Touch is an extension of "Dancing".

    At the ripe old age of 29, Bruce writes the song Cadillac Ranch; a song that is metaphorically about dying (“…when I die throw my body in the back and drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac”). Over the next few years, into his early 30’s, Bruce has an increased worry about getting older and dying. In “Dancing”, Bruce writes...."You sit around getting older...", just as in Glory Days, he is talking about the passage of time and the ticking of the clock.

    So, he's not making deep connections with people, his work is all he has, and in his eyes, even that isn't going well, because his manager, Jon Landau, told him to write a hit song, after Bruce turned-in no less than 60 songs for his Born In The U.S.A. album. Bruce yelled, "You want a hit song, you write it!" But, Bruce wrote it. He wrote it that very night, in a matter of minutes. Alone in his hotel room, he penned one of his most personal and deepest songs. A song filled with isolation and despair. But, he masks the song with a brilliant Top 10 dance track. Though, don't let the synthesizer and electric drumming fool you. It's a very dark and brooding song, with an element of self-hate.

    If you are not familiar with The Fall of the House of Usher, try reading it with this song in mind. Thematically, both works of art are, in essence, the same. Existentially, both artists struggle for meaning and purpose while their lives are in upheaval. In The Fall of the House of Usher, Roderick Usher invites his unnamed friend to spend a period of time with him at his house, to play music, paint, read. His subconscious reason for inviting the friend over to the home is to avoid the feelings of despair that are slowly destroying his soul. All the while, the house is crumbling down around them. This is a metaphor, of course; just Poe’s way of symbolizing Usher's soul. ("Man I ain't getting nowhere. I'm just living in a dump like this"...was Bruce's crumbling house in Usher). It's really quite amazing, because I highly doubt that Bruce thought of Poe while writing this song. Yet, the two are coming from the same deep, dark place.

    As I said, Bruce does this in ALL KINDS of songs. There are so many continuing sagas to Bruce's life thru his songs. They are NOT just pop rock songs. They are the fingerprints to his life.
    StevenPascalion January 02, 2015   Link
  • +4
    General Commentit sounds to me he needs a help to sparkle up his live a little. he knows there must be more but with his own sparke he cant start it. he needs a connection with someone else to feel alive. and he is tired of the way he was living. extualy the lyrics go further at the end: " you can't start a fire sitting 'round crying over a broken heart...... and later: " worrying about your little world falling apart...... this means to me that he has withdrawn himself from living but now is ready to get back in the game. His live was boring , also his looks and he sick and tired of it! how long must someone stay hungry? he finally gets it that your live is over before you know it. This is what i get from the lyrics and why i like them so much it gives me a boost. ( sorry for language errors i'm dutch)
    julietteon March 18, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General Commentjuliette has pretty much got it.

    He's stuck in a rut. Going to work in the evening after sleeping all day...still tired and doesn't want to talk. He comes home in the morning and feels the same way. Tired all the time.

    He tells the girl he's talking to that he needs a spark in his life. He's tired of his job, his house, his appearance and wants to change everything in his life. He realizes that life is passing him by and feels the world is on his shoulders.

    So, he tells the girl "come on, let's have some fun". He wants to do something besides sitting around his house..."even if it's just dancing in the dark".

    Great song that I can really relate to.
    Zepfreakon July 15, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI agree with most of the comments, regarding him being tired and stuck in a creative block, being in a dangerous area, body-clock screwed up with misery from day to night... etc..... As for "this guns for hire, even if we're just dancing in the dark" can be interpreted as follows.. Dancing in the dark as many have suggested can signify sex... However the song is very personal and this man seems alone, his life is a mess, and he may not be desirable in many ways: modd, finance, looks even... And by saying this guns for hire he says he is dangerous, risky... not desirable, and to dance in the dark is to have fun and be his lover, but to trealise they are dancing in the dark, that is dancing blind, or having blind fun... blind to the pain and reality of his life. The song to me seems to be a desperate plee for loving regardless of circumstances, even though his life is counterproductive in actually attracting love. In other parts of the song he says the laugh is on him, as if to emphasize that his problems are his own, and not anyone elses, and that he is suitable for loving as his problems he does not want to affect anyone he is with. The whole song sounds like a call for help.
    claddson October 04, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commentits kind of Ironic that this song became a hit as it was written about not being able to write a hit song
    McShineon April 20, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentZepfreak is right.

    The first part of the songs showes that he's frustarted with his life and stuck in a routine.
    In the refrain he tells the girl he's obviously talking to to 'be the spark which starts his fire (passion)". She should give him a reason to break out of his life.

    I especially love the ending, when he sings:

    "Stay on the streets of this town and they'll be carving you up alright"
    The daily routine is killing him (they=society)

    "They say you got to stay hungry hey baby I'm just about starving tonight"
    The other people (friends, his parents, his co-workers) tell him that you can never reach you dreams ("stay hungry") but he thinks that he had made to many compromises and now want to live his dreams ("...I'm just about starving..."). This hunger, he expresses, may also be the hunger for love!

    Great song. I can find myself in the position the singer is....and thats what a great song needs!
    DaredevilMikeon August 28, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song is one of the most relatable on a personal level i've ever heard. the line "you can't start a fire...worrying about your little world falling apart" sends shivers down my spine every time
    patobrienon August 06, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentCant remember exactly where I heard Bruce explain it , he stated th BITUSA album was finished and the label didnt see any of teh songs on it as being a single. SO they asked Bruce to go home and write a single for it. He told them thay he coudn't and wouldn't just write a song, he wasn't a "gun for hire" Now take that and read all the lryics again
    the matson October 31, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI love the irony of this song, a hit single about someone with no inspiration to write a hit single.

    I couldn't figure out what the chorus meant for a while but this is my interpretation:

    -You can't start a fire without a spark (you can't write a great song without inspiration)
    -This gun's for hire (He's forced by his label to write one anyway, I like to think Bruce is the "gun" who fires shots unwillingly by the "gunman": his record company)
    -even if we're just dancing in the dark (even if people are just dancing to a song with no passion, no "fire")

    What do you think?
    SquidPiloton July 24, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIts about sex.
    zujehyon October 28, 2008   Link

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