The lyric is rather bleak, as Springsteen sings lines like, "Man I ain't getting nowhere, I'm just living in a dump like this." It doesn't have a happy ending, but by the end of the song, he seems intent on taking some action, looking for just a tiny bit of inspiration to set him on his path - after all, you can't start a fire without a spark.
By the last verse, there's a touch of existentialism, as he puts things in perspective: "You can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart."
The deep, philosophical message was lost on most listeners who were entranced by the catchy beat (the video didn't exactly push a deeper meaning either). Springsteen got a similar reaction to his song "Born In The U.S.A.
," where the message was lost in the music. That one bothered him, as the song is about the plight of a Vietnam veteran returning home to hostilities and disregard.