The song is a pure Newmanesque number about a guy who's been beaten down, but can't be kept down. It's sardonic about his troubles, and upbeat about his possibilities or, at least, his insistent hopes. What's generally not known is that it's from a musical.
Back in 1993, Randy Newman wrote the score for a proposed stage musical. It never made it to Broadway, though it did have a tryout at a couple of impressive venues -- the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, and Chicago's Goodman Theatre. Right before the premiere at La Jolla, a concept album was released with a seriously-impressive cast. (Newman, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt and Don Henley.)
Fine, that's all well and good. But what's so intriguing about the song -- which as a standalone number is seen as a wonderful, upbeat anthem of hope and persistence -- is its source. The show that it's from is Faust. And it's sung by the Devil.
This kind of puts a different spin on the song when you hear it that way. To say the least. And, sung by Randy Newman as the Devil, makes it far more sardonically Newmanesque.