I like the drinking and driving theory but when you come to the part that goes, "I know, I know I said that I'd desist/ All right, I promise no more after this/ Not to be what I was like/ Not to soar across the sky/ Spread my thunderwings and fly/ Spread my thunderwings and fly" it clearly expresses a sense of longing for freedom. Its hard to associate that with a cripplicing addiction to alchohol or the tragedies that often occur with that addiction.
I have the overwhelming sense that this is about the Thunderbird car and how it, much like the Mustang, was and still is a symbol of freedom or youth. I hear a longing for past innocence and freedom. The music itself (aside from the lyrics) is strong, joyful, even inspirational. Again, not the kind of things one would associate with alchoholism and car crashes.
And not that is has much to do with the song but on the west coats Thunderbird is often associated with whaling. He (or she depending on who you ask...like Raven, Thunderbird seems to change sexes from tribe to tribe) is supposed to protect whalers when they are out hunting. It was explained to me that Thunderbird caught whales the way eagles catch salmon. Thats a pretty big bird!
Ride the Thunderbird
Maybe I'm too much of a goofball to interpret this as a serious song, but here's my take:
This song is about getting sick on an amusement park ride called the Thunderbird.
The singer vowed never to go on the ride again because he makes him dizzy, sick, and feel awful-- but he can't help himself! On what was turning out to be a great date, he decides to ride it again--"T-Bird taks her Dad away" being a clever allusion as well as a description from the girl's point of view of having her date wiped out from the mind-bending effects of the airborn Thunderbird ride.
The chorus is a musing mid-ride as the singer goes from a healthy color to a sickly white, recalling why the Thunderbird is going to make him crawl! Heck, I laughed :)