I heard the song is to do with the Cuyahoga River erupting into flames due to the amount of oil pollution that occured in it. I think it's more or less putting a beautiful musical spin on the skewered romanticism of seeing a spectacle of a river burning. It's played in a bit of an ironic manner.
As an erstwhile Ohioan, I just want to say, "Let it burn." OK, I have a few embers of affection still burning for Cleveland; but let the rest of the state--sterile, insular backwater that it is--burn in righteous fire. In any event, concerning the song, I don't know what Randy's aiming for here. I'd like to think that this is a defiant, self-destructive affirmation for a decaying industrial city. Let Cleveland have one last moment of dignity: let it erupt into a luminous, terrifying conflagration instead of experiencing a slow disintegration into desolation and irrelevance. Burn on, big river, burn on and swallow the whole damn world up with you. Is that what Randy's getting at? Probably not--but it's what I hear.