Racing In The Street

Album: Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978)
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  • I got a sixty-nine Chevy with a three-ninety-six
    Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor
    She's waiting tonight down in the parking lot
    Outside the 7-Eleven store
    Me and my partner Sonny built her straight out of scratch
    And he rides with me from town to town
    We only run for the money, got no strings attached
    We shut 'em up and then we shut 'em down

    Tonight, tonight the strip's just right
    I want to blow 'em off in my first heat
    Summer's here and the time is right
    For racing in the street

    We take all the action we can meet
    And we cover all the northeast state
    When the strip shuts down we run 'em in the street
    From the fire roads to the interstate
    Now some guys they just give up living
    And start dying little by little, piece by piece
    Some guys come home from work and wash up
    Then go racing in the street

    Tonight, tonight the strip's just right
    I want to blow 'em all out of their seats
    We're calling out around the world, we're going racing in the street

    I met her on the strip three years ago
    In a Camaro with this dude from L.A.
    I blew that Camaro off my back
    And drove that little girl away
    But now there's wrinkles 'round my baby's eyes
    And she cries herself to sleep at night
    When I come home, the house is dark
    She sighs, "Baby, did you make it all right"
    She sits on the porch of her daddy's house
    But all her pretty dreams are torn
    She stares off alone into the night
    With the eyes of one who hates for just being born
    For all the shut down strangers and hot rod angels
    Rumbling through this promised land
    Tonight my baby and me, we're gonna ride to the sea
    And wash these sins off our hands

    Tonight, tonight the highway's bright
    Out of our way, mister, you best keep
    'Cause summer's here and the time is right
    For racing in the street Writer/s: Bruce Springsteen
    Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 39

  • Haddonfield 70’s Guy from NjLove that album cover - it was shot in my hometown of Haddonfield, NJ.
    Everyone who lived in the 60’s muscle car era knows a “69 Chevy” was the Chevelle. The Chevelle SS had the 396 with the Hurst “on the floor”. My brother had that exact car and it was an iconic 60’s muscle car. Of course we know it didn’t have fuelie heads, but who cares - it’s a song.
    Great song by the Boss. It always brings me back to those 60’s & 70’s days of yore! And yes, we did some “racing in the streets” and survived to tell our kids the tales.
  • Anonymous from Benoni, Johannesburg South AfricaIf we are privileged to eat a stunning meal be it a Pizza, Hot Dog, Hamburger or whatever at just the right time in the right setting, would we necessarily worry about the ingredients as if we were a Master Chef? This song paints a picture of a story and way of life that makes it what it is. However, if you want to be concerned about the accuracy about the ingredients that is your right.
    But in my humble opinion it’s the message not only the words that make many songs so appealing. The songs of our lives.
    This is after being in the Music business since 1973. Hi-Fi, Musical equipment, ex Musician, Owner of Audio stores and Vinyl/CD Outlets
    Sons are now also musicians. It’s been one great journey. To all you Music lovers out there, enjoy the ride.
    Victor Bloxam
    South Africa
  • Fuelly Paolo from Modena, ItalyAnonymous, who thinks he's hot stuff, misses the point AND the tech in his nasty comment.

    True, Bruce never specs which '69 Chevy he's singing about. It could be any body style--Camaro, Impala, or Chevelle, but had it been a Chevelle or Corvette, the two-syllable name would have fit better into the song than "Impala", although both "Chevelle" and "Corvette" have the accented syllable wrong. So, "Chevy", with the accent on syllable #1. And, don't you think that Bruce's working class hero of the song would've bragged about it and name-dropped it, if he had a Corvette? So, it's a generic "'69 Chevy"...accent and syllable count both perfect.

    This is not the issue. The issue is the fuelly heads on a big block. A 396 is the smallest big block ("Rat" in Chevy parlance, vs. "Mouse" for the small block) Chevrolet motor made. The 427 was the most common and popular "Rat" motor.

    The sticking point: "Fuelly" heads only fit small block Chevy motors. Completely different architecture and castings. No way, Jose. My own first '55 Chevy Nomad strip car (first car I owned, back in '68!) had a 283 with "Fuelly" heads. These heads fit most small block engines, and were distinguished by their larger ports and valves (2.02 intakes, I recall).

    A terrific car ballad and morality tale with tons of soul and great, though sad, mood. Too bad about the tech mistake; kind of hard for me to get past that...
  • AnonymousYou by the book geeks make me laugh. "Ohh, fuelie heads didn't come on 396s!" Who the hell said it was an impala he was singing about, anyway? You could order a 396 in just about every model Chevy for 1969, you idiots. And you could also have a dealership (Yenko, Nickey) install any engine available into your car if you so desired. You weren't there, so don't try to correct the lingo of the streets back then. Feulie heads to a guy in Jersey probably meant something completely different to a guy in L.A.
  • Lawrence Cottrill from PaDickie from Denver, Co - No such thing as a factory 350 fuelie in those days. Chevy dropped Fuel Injection before the 350 was introduced with the Camaro in '67. Jeez. If you want to correct someone else's error, at least get your own "facts" straight.
  • Norman from Atlantic City, NjLet me begin by saying this: "Racing in the Street" stands on its own. It's a song I think is great, but from the first time I heard it, I realized that Bruce got the technical part wrong. it's simple.... fuelie heads were specific to the Corvette (and infamous Black Widow 1957 Chevy). The heads came on engines of two displacements, 283 and 327, and both had Rochedter Fuel Injection, hence the fuelie name. I could go into the valve sizes and what the valve lash settings were, but that would be overkill.... Fuelie heads were never offered on the 265 or 350, and you could as soon bolt a set of Ford (perish the thought!) heads on a 396. In short, one simply can't put small block heads on a big (348, 396, 409, 427, you name it) block. None of this in ANY way diminishes this song.....
  • Mark from Ormond, FlI think we all race in the streets !
    Living at the junction of rt 4 and interstate 95
    We see a lot of wrinkles in the passenger seat
    and just around the eyes.

    I think this guy passed me today !
  • Ralph from Petal, MsThe car in fact is real. It was a 69 Chevelle SS 396. I know this because I owned it and actually rode in it with the Boss. The engine block was built by a fellow who builds Nascar motors. When I purchased it all that was needed was the intake, ignition, and exhaust (headers etc). Not sure exactly where the heads came from but they were defenitly high performance and had a special stamping on the heads as I recall. This car was wicked fast ! I love this song and know why he wrote it. For guys like me... Thanks Bruce !
  • Scott from Sydney, AustraliaEpic song. The opening piano hooks you straight away and Bruce's earnest voice keeps you hooked. Doesn't matter so much about the details, those who don't know about the flaw don't realise or care. That said, I can completely understand how something like that would bug somehow who knew about it. And no matter what mood I'm in, thing song sucks me into it.
  • Matty from New Brunswick, NjNot to be overly critical, but I sell old Impalas and vintage GM Parts... The 1969 SS Impala came only with a 427. If you ordered a plain impala or a custom, or impala wagon you could order a number of engine choices from a straight 6 cylinder to various V8s including 307,327,350, 396 and 427 cuin's, they all fit in the impala engine compartment (full-sized car line). "SS" or Supersport Impalas were only sold with the 427cuin in 69. Fuelie heads are for small blocks...396 and 427 are Big Block engines a definate whoops!
    The point is the Boss has great musical talent that lives on everytime the turntable plays his songs...(even if it is a CD)..It makes one remember when racing in the streets was what we lived for...there is nothing like a song that puts you back into those days...when we were young and lived to buy paint for a weekend paint job on our ride... or you saved up your pitiful paycheck for a new carb to get more from that engine you swore could top anything on the road...But there was always someone there to keep you trying for next weekend to compete...remember America when we did things like this??? When we worked to get to the next race or we pulled together we had neighborhood when people spoke to one another face to face? The neighbor offered you a hot dog, and you didn't hesitate? Not just communicating on a thread? I guess the Boss's songs just remind me of better times when life was purer...Probably because america once loved the cars WE and our parents made in local factories!!! What a concept! Pride in America that's what is missing. Thanks all... Matty
  • Jon from London, United KingdomThis song isn't about the car and 386 engines. It's about what the car stands for - freedom from the narrator's life - the lines:
    "Some guys they just give up living
    And start dying little by little, piece by piece
    Some guys come home from work and wash up
    And go racin' in the street"
    highlight this.
    The song then goes into the point of view of his lover who "hates for just being born" and how he realises, in the end, she's the person he can escape his life with, with the ambiguity of whether they commit suicide or just drive away to a new life.
  • Becki from Memphis, TnWhen I bought this album, the album jacket had the lyrics to the songs. In this song, the word Camaro was spelled wrong. It was spelled with an "e" which to a real Camaro fan is a slap in the face. I wrote Capitol records a letter about it. Don't know if they ever changed it or not. I would be nice if artists/movie-TV writers etc would confer with a car fanatic before publishing work.
  • Det from Los Angeles, Caalso, the most likely chassis for a street racer in 1978 would have been a Camaro, Chevelle, or Nova body, and those are still the most popular Chevy's for racing out there, regardless of year. nobody cared that much about Impalas for street racing in the 70's, and even still today, they're more popular for cruising than racing overall. all classic Chevy's are awesome though. :)
  • Det from Los Angeles, Cafirst of all, you can put a 396 in a riding lawnmower if you know what you're doing. and a 396 is the smallest Chevy "big block" there is, nothing special about a 396 at all, 427's & 454's weigh the same and take up the same space as a 396, while producing more torque & hp. a 396 is not "bad" it's just not as powerful as other motors. this song is about the addictive nature of street racing, especially street racing for hard cash. make $200-$1,0000+ for a few seconds of work, plus the adrenaline rush - it's like a drug, hard to quit. like any addict, the people around an addict suffer. street racing is an adrenaline rush that's hard to pack away, but he tries to change his life and "wash those sins"(dangerous, illegal racing & neglecting his woman)away by just having a "normal" night out with her. but, tonight "the highway's bright" from the headlights of other racers on the road. when he says "mister, you best keep" he's essentially saying to another streetracer "let me just roll past you and don't try to challenge me, because i will race you," something he's trying desperately hard to avoid that particular night.
  • Brian from Chicago, Il"We are gonna ride to the sea and wash these sins off our hands" - What does this mean? Also, thanks to Rick from Manchester's for his interpretation.
  • Mike from Boulder, CoTo say that many early Springsteen songs refer to cars is a classic understatement, 9 out of 10 songs on this album contain a reference to cars or driving (all except Factory). More than half make this reference in the first couplet/stanza.
  • The Last Dj from Los Angeles, CaHas no one ever heard the late great Townes Van Zandt cover of this song? I mean, not to take anything away from Bruce but Townes makes this song his own. Van Zandt put out an album called "Road Songs" of all cover tunes. He was quoted as saying, "I wished I'd written every single of 'em." My hats off to The Boss for penning such great lyrics.
  • William from Mahanoy City, Pawhy is everybody thinking it was a impala. does anybody else know or heard of a ss396 chevelle because thats the car i am thinking it was. you would race a chevelle more likly. i am not putting down a big chevy i love them too but no where in the song does it say what body style it is. the song is great no matter how you slice it it starts out about racing and ends a love song.
  • Ken from Edmonton, AbOne of his best songs. Here, his vocal reminds me of Jackson Browne.
  • Jordan from Fairfax, VaThis song isn't just about cars, people. If you listen to the song, the persons thoughts and love goes from cars, cars, cars, to his "baby." In short, he stops paying so much attention to cars and goes to his woman.
  • Harper from Tokio, Japanok Racing in the Street is not completely about cars its one of four songs that goes in order about realationships.

    1. Thunder Road
    2. The Promise
    3. Darkness on the Edge of Town
    4. Racing in the Street

    You guys dont know bruce
  • James from Wollongong, AustraliaLook you guys saying you owned this and that and this will fit and so on. If you listen or read the lyrics he says a 396 with fuelie heads. A 396ci v8 was an option correct. Fuelie heads are off a 350ci chev hence the reason for the error.
    Andrew i don't see why you would bother to make fuelie heads fit a 396. Oil/coolant holes in the 396 block would not match the fuelie heads. However this can be changed so they do but why wouldn't you use the standard 396 heads.
    Its an inaccuracy in the song. But really who cares its a fantastic song that really does capture what some of us do live for.
  • Carlos from Jkl, FinlandOne of the best songs in the world. It has incredible feeling and touch..just can imagine tough guy ridin from town to town that old chevy with his girl frontseat..i thought it was about illegal street racing in summer nights.. guy who every girl wants to be with..piano at the beginning of the song and that whistlin organ (hammond?) sound is so emotional..and sad missing something you can't get...the song you want to listen with beauty girl laying beside you..
  • Dickie from Denver, CoThere is absolutely no problem with putting a 396 in a '69 Impala, that engine (and the 427) were both options that year. That is not the technical inaccuracy with this song, the inaccuracy has to do with the "fuelie heads". The nickname "fuelie" was for the small-block Chevy engine, the 350, and the heads for that engine would certainly not fit on the large-block 396. That is the problem with the lyric. But who cares, it is a great song. Now, it is possible to bore out a small block and make it displace 396 cubic inches, but hardly anybody ever did that to a "fuelie." Who cares, the song is great.
  • Bess from San Diego, CaI like the music a lot. If you take the words out, it makes a sad-sounding tune. I find it interesting how a song about racing mixes so well with such sad music. The song as a whole is good, though. I'm not saying otherwise.
  • Conor from Dublin, Irelandpowerful evocative song from bruce an absolute classic
  • Kyle from Arlington, OhDoes anyone else have the bootleg live version on which Roy plays a 5 minute outro solo? It is the greatest version I've heard of one of his most powerful songs.
  • Rutty from CanberraThis is an awesome song... and of course it is possible to put a 396 in a 69 chevy, i've seen big blocks in escorts.
    A bloke in australia finished his 55 chev a couple of years ago, it's powered by a 27 litre v-12 merlin engine, out of a p-51 mustang.
    Theres a few other springteen songs that feature cars, including born to run, and theres a pretty cool t-bird in the i'm on fire film clip
  • Andrew from Greeley, CoOk, The Boss was ABSOLUTELY NOT wrong. Fuelie Heads were in indeed available on a 69 Chevy, 300 Hp 350s had them factory - here is why Bruce Knows what he is talking about - A 396 Does NOT to have a be a Big block. If a small block (which could in fact have fuelie heads) with a bore of 4 inches is bored to 4.20, and a 3.75 Crankshaft is used, the displacement does in fact come out to 396 Cubic inches.Chevy even made a 4.00 x 4.00 400 smallblock staring in 1970 - Some would Say a small block cannot be bored out to 4.20, however with the right aftermarket block they sure can. Who is to say the Boss was using a factory casting. Even in 1978 Gm had experimental stuff, blocks, heads, cams, ect. Small blocks can go as high as 454 Cubic inches with the right pieces. Not that blocks were available for mass market in 1978, but the technology was there. For the sake of argument, if the 396 in Bruce's 69 Chevy was indeed a big block, it could potentially have what I would consider a FUELIE head - peanut port Big block chevy heads, the same ones that are still available from GM on the FUEL INJECTED crate motors will in fact fit on a 396, which of course, was available in 69 Chevy. So either it be a big block, or a small block, the Boss didn't make a mistake, he just maybe talking about some things that are little more exotic than the shade tree mechanic knows about
  • Neil from Philly, Pathe song came about with some conversations he had with a stranger back in the 70's in a bar bruce use to come to the bar and tow his car
  • Rick from ManchesterTo be honest I think whether the car is "real" or not is pretty irrelevant. I think this song is utterly fantastic, and the song facts above don't do it justice. The ballad is typical of Springsteen, a blue-collar guy working in a dead-end job lives for street racing because life has thrown him nothing better. Till he meets a girl at the races and takes her home, but the relationship suffers as the guy spends all his nights out street racing and the girl has nothing really to live for. She gets really depressed and the guy says "for all the shutdown strangers and hot-rod angels, rumbling through this promised land" that he and the girl are gonna drive to the sea and wash the sins off their hands, I always assumed this just meant they were fleeing to find their fortune somewhere else, but my mate reckons it means their gonna top themselves... what does anyone/everyone else think??
  • Barry from New York, NcMuch of the racing imagery comes from Springsteen's memory of drag racing that actually took place in Asbury Park. There is a traffic circle at the intersectin of Kingsley Avenue and Ocean Avenue, where according to Bruce "the drivers would use up half the gasoline in the U.S."
  • Tim from West Chester, Payou can put a 396 in a 69 chevy . everybody knows that
  • Victor from San Diego, Ca"Pink Cadillac" is not an early Springsteen song as stated in the songfacts above, coming out years after he first reached the charts and years after the other two songs mentioned.
  • Darren from Chicago, IlYes I knew that .396's were an upgradable option for the 69 Imapalas and Caprices. No kidding??? You can drop a .427 under that hood? It makes sense actually, since you could pretty much stuff a couch underneath that hood with all the spare room. I was told that a .405 would fit in there, but anything higher frame mods and other stuff would have to be done to the car.
  • Ecs Iii from Phx, AzYou guys don't know much about cars. I have a 69 Impala with a big block 396 in my garage and thats the way chevy built it. They also came 427's. In 1970 you could get a 454.
  • Darren from Chicago, IlUntrue. 69 Impala SS has plenty of room under the hood for a larger block engine. Stock engine was a 327 but from what I can rememebr the frame can hold up to a 405. I used to own one as a teen and had a 350 installed after blowing a rod on the original 327 motor.
  • Tyler from Hamilton, CanadaSpringsteen latter admitted that his research was flawwed. Apparantly, it is not possible to put a 396 in a 69 Chevy.
    Bruce was upset about this inaccuracy in his song.
  • Steeve from Kansas City, KsBruce also borrows the famous intro riff from the Crystals "Then He Kissed Me," produced and written by Phil Spector... at the beginning and in the middle.
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