This is a long essay but worth your time. A small excerpt:
Born to Run, the whole album, was about longing, open highway, the amusement park rising bold and stark, the poets who write nothing at all, the ghosts in the eyes of all the boys Mary sent away. Born to Run is about that brilliant age when you know dreams don't come true, but you still believe they might come true FOR YOU.
And The Promise is about the every day numbing of those dreams. It is a follow-up to Thunder Road, that song about the guy who learned how to make his guitar talk, and the girl who ain't a beauty (but hey, she's all right), both of them, pulling out of that town full of losers, pulling out of there to win. Now, that guy's got a job. It's a night job. Some nights he don't go. A friend told me, "You have to listen to this song. I can't believe you haven't heard this song."