The Distance
by Cake

Album: Fashion Nugget (1996)
Charted: 22
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Many of Cake's songs deal with cars, and in this one, a race car driver is feverishly trying to win. It could be a metaphor for straining to achieve at any endeavor, perhaps the corporate world.
  • "Going The Distance" is generally used in some sports to imply victory. If a football player breaks free for a touchdown, he would be "going the distance."
  • This was written by Greg Brown, who was the band's guitarist until 1998. It remains Cake's most popular song.
  • This was used in an episode of The Simpsons called "Saddlesore Galactica." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2
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Comments: 21

  • Reade Atkinson from United StatesTo me it's about him masturbating and he's thinking about the girl he lost.
  • Jackie from TauntonPersonally I believe it's talking about a man that works too much. A man that was working "for his family" but really he was just trying to push for success, and couldn't slowdown. A man that left his wife alone in a time of need, so he could continue his pursuit of success.
  • Jackie from TauntonSee, I think the song is talking about a man that works too much. About a man that is trying to climb the ladder of success. Leaving his wife neglected and alone at home. I think he is trying to live up to the success that he always wanted, but is letting his life pass him by, to include leaving his wife alone through his attempts at success.
  • Elaine from RaynhamThis song to me is about an assault on a women. It has 2 meanings... it's about a man who after the horse race is fooling around with a women and takes it to far. He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse. Driving and striving and hugging the turns (her body). She's all alone in a time of need and was fooling around with him when he took it to far. It's also about a man who feels inadequate... Bowel shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse. He's going the distance.
  • Daina from Terra Firmait's our system man...how it allows morons to rise to the full level of their arrested development to be our Ceasers.
  • Michael from Huntington, WvI feel like the song is talking about a man chasing his dream because he loves doing it, not for the money or the success or the fame. I feel like the man was never successful with his dream while others were much more successful. He eventually runs out of money to support and continue chasing his dream but in his mind he never gives up on it.
  • Craig from United States"The Distance" has always seemed to be about a guy who crashed during a race, doesn't realize he died, and, as a ghost, is eternally going around the track...but he cannot see the "reality" of the end of the race day. His girlfriend/fiance (she's never seemed to be his wife in my mind) is, obviously, left to deal with the tragedy of loss, and eventually moves on with her life.
  • Tawney from TexasI think this song could be about PTSD, and the "race" is an allegory for war.
    "No flowers, no flashbulbs, no trophies, no wine. He's haunted by something he cannot define. Bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse assail him, impale him with monster truck force"- This man is obviously traumatized and forced to relive this his experiences- which just screams PTSD. Even today, soldiers aren't given the proper care after they experience horrific circumstances in war zones. And in the song, its talking about how even after he's received all the glory he still isn't satisfied because he has to live with his actions. Also, the part where "she's hoping in time that her memories will fade", "She" could have been his love before he was sent to war but after he came back he changed and wasn't the same person anymore. The trauma he lived through changed him, and he can no longer see to her needs like he used to.
    I also found a bunch of other references that explain my theory, so feel free to search through the song and dive into the lyrics. And my theory may not be 100%, but this is just how I interpreted it.
  • Tom from Santa Clara, CaThis always struck me as a song about closing time at a night club. Everyone else has left and there's one guy left hitting on some poor girl. Whether he actually assaults her or not is vague...purposely so...to put that prototypical Cake tension down into the bowels of the song.
  • Gregory from Wellington (like The Beef), Fl"Going the distance" first passed into English vernacular as a boxing expression. "Going the distance" meant the two fighters in a boxing match completed all 12 rounds without a knockout, and their contest would be decided solely on points.
  • Jackie from Virginia Beach, VaObsession to the point of pushing your self to ignoring all limits, everything else be damned, including winning ("left with the cup", and what it does to those around you ("alone in her time of need" and "she's hoping in time that her memories will fade" - of what she lost to the obsession), all to escape something ("he's haunted by something he cannot define"). He even knows what he is losing ("bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse") Jill, I can see how this would both remind you and comfort you in your loss. I picture some crazy things I've done on my bicycle riding over all these years (from BMX to Mountain, to just plain distance, losing myself in the exhaustion of pedaling, the rush of speed, wind and adrenaline). I'm sorry it sounds like he pushed it too far.
  • Jill from Carmel, Nymy husband died on his motorcycle the day after we were married. the line, (reckless and wild, they pour through the turns. their prowess is potent and secretly stern.) was the rush he got & the illusion that he was in control... (no trophy, no flowers, no flashbulbs, no wine,
    he's haunted by something he cannot define.
    bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse,
    assail him, impale him with monster-truck force.
    in his mind, he's still driving, still making the grade.) was when he died. (she's all alone
    all alone in her time of need.) is how i've felt ever since... just my take on the song... amazing that it somehow brings me peace...
  • Ed from Minneapolis, MnOK, I have heard from several people now that this song is about sperm trying to reach a female egg. I think this is what it's all about friends, listen to the lyrics!!!
  • Bob from Schenectady, NyThis song mixes metaphors of several kinds of races - Car/vehicle, horse, and foot.
  • Corey from Richmond, VaLove this song. Never There is also a great song.
  • Tyler from Dry Ridge, Kyits def about a girl.
  • Helj from Trumbull, CtTo me, this song is clearly about a guy who lost out on a girl (either through rejection or through someone else getting her first), but he's refusing to let it go or give up on it:

    "and long ago somebody left with the cup. but he's driving and striving and hugging the turns. and thinking of someone for whom he still burns"

    Clearly the guy "still burns" for her. The one thing that is confusing is the aspect of leaving her alone in a time of need. Makes you wonder if that is how he lost her to begin with.
  • Robert from Houston, TxMy wife teaches English and uses this song to teach the concept of the metaphor. She says that it's always amazing to see the light bulbs going on behind when they read the lyrics and listen to the song.
  • Bianca Sanchez from Alburquerque, NmAwsome awesome Song
  • Legaf from Calgary, AbNote that it's "feverishly trying to win", yes, but after the race is already lost. (Long ago, somebody left with the cup...)

    It's about the stubborn loser who can't/won't admit defeat, telling themselves that if they can only keep going, they may still win the prize. The spectators know it's hopeless.

    It's an apt metaphor for romantic pursuit, once she's given herself to another, but still the loser hopes that by doing his best, she'll somehow turn around. I think, however, the song is trying to say the loser is deluding himself with the thoughts (she's all alone in her hour of need). Sad, though.
  • This Dude from Philla, Pagreat song......
    most definetly......
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