There’s mostly nothing for me to personally relate to in Springsteen’s Thunder Road. There’s no engine under a dirty hood, no wind in the hair. There’s no Mary, there’s no dress, no “like a vision she dances across the porch … Roy Orbison singing for the lonely.” Not really, anyway; although that image seems so familiar like it would for anyone who’s ever been an 18-year-old. Or a 40-year-old.
I suppose “Roy Orbison singing for the lonely” sticks with us because loneliness sticks with us in one way or another, even at our happiest. We know what longing and lonely and loving feel like, even when we don’t have them. Or maybe especially when we don’t have them. And so we all feel the imperative and urgency:
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
I don’t know exactly what this means, but I know what it feels like. I suppose that this is what makes Springsteen, Thunder Road, or any other song we scream alone in the car or the living room (when no one else is there to witness) so great.