Seen Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a state trooper's Ford”
- Darlington County, Born in the U.S.A.
I have been reading a lot of Raymond Carver’s short stories lately and I feel that “Darling County” bears strong similarities to a Carver story. Carver’s writing style is brusque and to the point but paradoxically full of vivid detail. Many of the stories have an unexpected turn or twist in the end that reveals the ugly side of human behavior without rationalizing or explaining it.
This description seems like a natural connection to the Nebraska album but I actually think “Darlington County” is the closest in style to a Carver short story. The song begins happily enough with its tale of youthful abandon and the seemingly wide-open possibilities in front of the lead characters. As it progresses, the intentions of the characters appear more lascivious and less innocent. In the final line, the narrator drives out of Darlington County with the image of his buddy handcuffed to a cop car in his rear view mirror. We don't know what happened or why it happened but much like you find in a Carver story, something serious happened and it can't be explained, but it can be interpreted.