Springsteen wrote this about a small-time drag racer who dreams of a better life somewhere else. Like Steve Earle's "Someday," it describes that very American desire of the young man to leave his town and see what is out in the big world - to avoid that soul killing life they see around them.
Suggestion credit: Dan - Saint Paul, MN
This is one of many early Springsteen songs featuring cars - in this case a Chevy. Some others were "Thunder Road," "Backstreets," and "Pink Cadillac."
Bruce explained to Rolling Stone in 2010: "When you pick a song title like 'Racing In The Street,' that's a hard song to write. But that was sort of the local culture of Asbury in the '70s, which was still deeply enmeshed in car culture. If you went to the Stone Pony, it was a constant circle of souped-up muscle cars on Saturday and Sunday. Once again, I sort of stood outside of it, I was hitchhiking, I didn't have a car! But I wanted one real bad."
Springsteen wrote in his book Songs: "I wanted my street racers to carry the years between the car songs of the '60s and 1978 America."
This song is filled with technical details about remodeling cars. Although he did love cars, Springsteen had to ask for advice and was careful to be correct in his language. However, after the song was released, a mechanic friend exclaimed that you couldn't put fuelie heads on a '69 Chevy and proceeded to prove his point.
Suggestion credit: Jesse - Roanoke, VA
The last line in the song is a takeoff on Martha And The Vandella's "Dancing in the Street." Springsteen sings: "Summer's here and the time is right for racing in the street."
This was included on Springsteen's box set Live 1975-1985.
Emmylou Harris and Queen's Roger Taylor have both covered this song. Harris cites Springsteen as inspiration for her songwriting and influence on her 1985 album The Ballad of Sally Rose. Springsteen's 1982 Nebraska album, in particular, was a big influence. "I was so inspired by the bravery of that record and the emotion of that record that I said, 'I've really got to just do this project,'" Harris said in our 2014 interview.
On April 17, 2008, E Street Band keyboard player Danny Federici died of melanoma at the age of 58. This song is an example of his organ work that helped frame Springsteen's sound.