“Racing in the Street” is probably my favorite Springsteen song. I have never and likely will never race in the street. I’m not particularly interested in cars. I don’t even like driving. Yet somehow, that song resonates with me. Why? Well, I think racing is a metaphor for restlessness and that is something I understand.
John Prine’s “Day Is Done” also manages to reach me despite me not being able to relate to the subject matter. In fact, I pretty much abhor the subject matter and don’t find a whole lot of sympathy for cheaters. But Prine makes these cheaters’ story relatable somehow and I find some romantic notion in their predicament. Maybe it is a metaphor for being stuck in general, something that I think gets to most of us as we age. Maybe it is just that they want something they can’t have, something that exists in the moment that they carve their names in a tree and is gone when they set the tree afire. Maybe it’s the tragedy of having to choose. Maybe it is just that John Prine was able to create something beautiful out of something ugly.