“Dancing in the Dark” (analysis, commentary, translation into Italian)


Leonid Pasternak



I get up in the evening
and I ain’t got nothing to say
I come home in the morning
I go to bed feeling the same way
I ain’t nothing but tired
Man I’m just tired and bored with myself
Hey there baby, I could use just a little help

Mi alzo la sera e non ho nulla da dire
Torno a casa al mattino e vado a dormire con la stessa sensazione
Non ho nulla, sono solo stanco
Amico, sono stanco e annoiato di me stesso
Hey piccola, mi farebbe comodo un po’ d’aiuto

This seems to describe either  the singer’s nocturnal life of concerts and recording session or the loneliness of a person working third shift. Blue-collar workers generally do the same job during  their entire career, which is quite boring, as stated in “I ain’t nothing but tired.”
He seems tired of his life, stuck in a creative block, frustrated


You can’t start a fire
You can’t start a fire without a spark
This gun’s for hire
even if we’re just dancing in the dark

Non puoi accendere un fuoco,
non puoi accendere un fuoco senza una scintilla
questo fucile è in affitto
anche se stiamo solo danzando  nell’oscurità

Lamenting that success has affected his life, he seems to complain about the difficulties of writing a hit song and feeling like a hired gun: his talents are used to reach success, but he feels it is impossible to just click a producer’s fingers and get a hit, to fire a shot unwillingly because his record company wants him to.
He is explaining that a great song can’t be written without inspiration, a creative spark is necessary, not just the orders of a producer, “even if we’re just dancing in the dark”, going round without any clue.
If this is to be intended as a love song both phrases “This gun is for hire” and “dancing in the dark ” refer to a sexual encounter with this girl who can help him that night.


Message keeps getting clearer
radio’s on and I’m moving ’round the place
I check my look in the mirror
I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face
Man I ain’t getting nowhere
I’m just living in a dump like this
There’s something happening somewhere
baby I just know that there is

Il messaggio diventa sempre più chiaro,
la radio è accesa e mi muovo per la stanza
Mi do un’ occhiata nello specchio
voglio cambiami i vestiti, i capelli, la faccia
Amico, non arriverò da nessuna parte
vivendo in una topaia come questa
C’è qualcosa che sta capitando da qualche parte,
baby, so che è così


All the imagery is about the difficulties of being an artist and in some way hating himself (“check my look in the mirror, I wanna change my clothes my hair my face”) and the realization he is stuck in a dirty place and needs to get out. He must search for some meaning, because he knows that somewhere else there is a new life waiting for him.
The message about the change in his life may also be seen as the need to depart from his previous albums and make some  stylistic variations in the future



You sit around getting older
There’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me
I’ll shake this world off my shoulders
Come on baby this laugh’s on me

Te ne stai seduto ad invecchiare.
c’è un brutto scherzo da qualche parte e mi riguarda
Mi scuoterò via questo mondo via dalle spalle.
Baby è su di me che si ride.

His life may be considered comical(“There’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me”): he is getting old, all of his dreams are disappearing, so he has to decide to move forward, because, if he remains where he is, he will be destroyed.


Stay on the streets of this town
And they’ll be carving you up alright
They say you gotta stay hungry
Hey baby I’m just about starving tonight
I’m dying for some action
I’m sick of sitting ’round here trying to write this book
I need a love reaction

Come on now baby gimme just one look
Rimani sulle strade di questa città
Ed esse ti modelleranno completamente.
Dicono che devi sempre restare affamato,
hey, piccola, sto quasi per morire di fame stanotte
Ho assoluto bisogno di un po’ di azione,
sono stanco di starmene seduto qui cercando di scrivere questa storia
Ho bisogno di una reazione d’amore ( po’ d’amore che mi faccia reagire):
coraggio piccola, lanciami solo uno sguardo.

The daily routine is killing him: he has to conform to the ideas of society, who is “carving”  or molding him the way that they want him to be.
He wants to stay hungry, unsatisfied, because great comfort may lead to self-satisfaction and the inability to move forward. Even though he has made many compromises, now he wants to live his dreams because he is tired of remaining there, trying to write this song.
He needs a connection with someone else to feel alive, his soul is tortured by life’s implications, failed personal relationships, isolation and despair. In this struggle for meaning and redemption he is looking for someone who could give him “just one look”, some human contact.


You can’t start a fire
Sitting ’round crying over a broken heart
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark
You can’t start a fire
Worrying about your little world falling apart
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark
Hey baby

Non puoi accendere un fuoco
passando il tempo a piangere sopra un cuore infranto
Questo fucile è in affitto
anche se stiamo danzando nell’oscurità.
Non puoi accendere un fuoco
preoccupandoti del tuo piccolo mondo che se ne va a rotoli
Questo fucile è in affitto
anche se stiamo danzando nell’oscurità…

The message is: you must not give up, you must work through fear of failure. The first “You can’t” means that you can’t move forward when you are in a state of extreme grief or sorrow, and the second that you have to take risks to get to where you want in life.

Even if the lyrics don’t have a happy ending, the singer seems now determined to take some action, to look for a little bit of inspiration, a spark, to be set in motion.

Most people think it is a happy song because the music is catchy. On the contrary, Bruce is extremely despairing, but he succeeds in brightening the sadness of life.




3 thoughts on ““Dancing in the Dark” (analysis, commentary, translation into Italian)

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