It was in response to Jon Landau (his manager). Landau wanted Born in the USA to have a massive commercial hit, which went against Springsteen’s ethos over music and creativity, so they had a big dust-up over it.
Springsteen went home and wrote Dancing in the Dark that same night. He wrote about the difficulties of being an artist (“check my look in the mirror, I wanna change my clothes my hair my face”), the pressures of commercial success and the line between maintaining his artistic integrity. He is saying it’s impossible to just click a producer’s fingers and get a hit.
“Can’t start a fire… can’t star a fire without a spark”
“This gun’s for hire, even if we’re just dancing in the dark”
He’s saying ‘you need a creative spark to be creative, not somebody ordering you to be creative’ and ‘you can ask for a hit, and pay me for a hit, but it doesn’t mean I’ll write a hit. I need a creative spark to write a hit, not the orders of my producer.’