The Distance
by Cake

Album: Fashion Nugget (1996)
Charted: 22
Play Video
  • Reluctantly crouched at the starting line
    Engines pumping and thumping in time
    The green light flashes, the flags go up
    Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup
    They deftly maneuver and muscle for rank
    Fuel burning fast on an empty tank
    Reckless and wild, they pour through the turns
    Their prowess is potent and secretly stern

    As they speed through the finish, the flags go down
    The fans get up and they get out of town
    The arena is empty except for one man
    Still driving and striving as fast as he can
    The sun has gone down and the moon has come up
    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

    He's going the distance
    He's going for speed
    She's all alone (all alone)
    All alone in her time of need

    Because he's racing and pacing and plotting the course
    He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse
    He's going the distance
    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

    She's hoping in time that her memories will fade
    'Cause he's racing and pacing and plotting the course
    He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse
    The sun has gone down and the moon has come up
    And long ago somebody left with the cup
    But he's striving and driving and hugging the turns
    And thinking of someone for whom he still burns

    'Cause he's going the distance
    He's going for speed
    She's all alone (all alone)
    All alone in her time of need

    Because he's racing and pacing and plotting the course
    He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse
    He's racing and pacing and plotting the course
    He's fighting and biting and riding on his horse

    He's going the distance
    He's going for speed
    He's going the distance

    Ah no, so sad, alright
    Oh no, oh no, no, no Writer/s: Gregory Brown
    Publisher: BMG Rights Management
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 34

  • Jorge from Cali Obviously this song is a track athlete. "reluctantly crouched" Engines pumping refers to people slapping their legs before a race. I race track trust me this is it. He does not win the race and the only way to get better at running is to keep on running. It is way different then racing cars where you don't depend on your body. I have gone on night runs before hoping to get ahead of my opponents by extra training. Obviously there could be so many meanings for this song. But when I heard it I instantly thought running because thats what I surround my life with.
  • Ty from AmericaHonestly, this song means anything you want it to. It's the same for millions of songs if not more. I see these comments and I'm fascinated by the different ideas and such, and what they could each mean for each person. For me, this song is about a guy who's goal is this girl, and he never turns astray or moves on from her, whereas the others have moved on and found happiness in places other than they originally planned. But he doesn't, he strives and fights to be with her, and she too, wants to be with him, but circumstances make this hard, yet he still fights through it, he's going the distance for what he truly wants.
  • Doug C from CaliCrouching on his steel horse is definitely the start of a motorcycle race. I believe he crashed and died. That's why he will always be churning and turning racing for the cup. He's a ghost racer, and his wife is always finding a way to cope with her loss.
  • Jimmy F. from HellI honestly think that the song is about a man who has entered a coma and wants to escape because of a woman.
  • Amber R. from FloridaWord through the grapevine is that the song is about the guitarist's sisters BF who was addicted to racing (but he wasn't like extra good at it or anything, he just thought he was). Cars, Bikes, Street racing and racing really. And their ( guitarist & sister ) grandfather who was like a father to them passed away. Sister was devastated and when she need support from BF guy he was out racing, working on bikes, getting trashed and every excuse thinkable to avoid being there for her when she needed him the most. ( Plus as story has it, he had another chick on the side anyways.) So.. yeah...

    I dunno how much of this is true, came from someone who used to date someone in or around the band. But it kinda makes sense.
    Food for thought at least!
    (& Guy is still a loser btw)
    Hoping one day I'll get ta ask this question in person after a show.
  • Woooold from FargoHe going for “speed” i imagine hes depicting a man aching to get off work not to see his family but his plug
  • AnonymousI think this song is about dirt bike racing. Bc he says crouched at the starting line. That’s the only type of racing you’ll be crouched at especially when that it is said that engines are pumping and thumping with time so you know that. Plus when they say his “horse”. A motorbike is known for being a steel horse.
  • A Concerned Citizen from AustraliaI’m so sick of people saying it’s about car racing. It literally says in the song “riding on his horse” - it’s about horse racing. Maybe no one else has heard of the sport but it’s pretty big in Melbourne where I’m from.
  • AnonymousHe's a workaholic who lost his marriage due to his addiction. Instead of putting his all into his girl, he's busy indulging in work?
  • Daniel from VailIts not about a race car.... cars aren't "reluctantly crouched." This song makes no god damn sense. But I like it.
  • Jake from St.louisTo. E honest in my opinion it think it is about Kin Miles when he was racing in 24 hours of Le Mones and when Henry Ford the second told alll there of the GT40 teams to line up to get her when they won Le Mones and Kin Miles didn’t when the cup even though he was way ahead of both of the other ford teams.
  • Emma from AtlantaThe song is about a situation where a man and a woman are at a bar or party and both are lonely. Basically a metaphor for a hook-up.
  • Shannon from Mankato MnI think its about a race car driver that wrecked and is now in a coma
  • 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......
see more comments

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