Atlantic City (song)
This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (October 2017)
|Single by Bruce Springsteen|
|from the album Nebraska|
|Bruce Springsteen UK singles chronology|
Springsteen wrote in his Greatest Hits sleeve notes that he recorded the track in his bedroom "for $1,050 (the cost of the four-track Tascam recorder), mixed through an old Gibson guitar unit to a beat box." He provides the vocals, guitar, harmonica, tambourine, organ, and synthesizer for the song.
The song depicts a young couple's escape to Atlantic City, New Jersey, but it also wrestles with the inevitability of death as the man in the relationship intends to take a job in organized crime upon arriving in the city. The opening lines of "Atlantic City" refer to mafia violence in nearby Philadelphia, with Springsteen singing: "Well, they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night/Now they blew up his house too." The phrase "chicken man" refers to Philadelphia crime family mafia boss Philip Testa, who was killed by a rival gang operator who planted a bomb in his Philadelphia house in March 1981. The song evokes the widespread uncertainty regarding gambling during its early years in Atlantic City and its promises to resurrect the city, as well as the young man's uncertainty about taking the less-than-savory job: "Everything dies, baby, that's a fact, but maybe everything that dies someday comes back."
The song is also included on his 1995 Greatest Hits album and on the 2003 compilation The Essential Bruce Springsteen. "8 Years", a 2006 episode of the television series Cold Case, was based around nine Springsteen songs, with "Atlantic City" played during its climactic murder scene. In 2012 following Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie quoted the song's chorus during a cameo on Saturday Night Live.
A music video, directed by Arnold Levine, was produced for "Atlantic City", which received moderate play on MTV in the United States. Springsteen does not appear in the video, which features stark, black and white images of Atlantic City.
From the Born in the U.S.A. Tour on, "Atlantic City" has made fairly regular appearances in Springsteen's band concerts, with a soft-hard-cycle arrangement very similar to that of "Darkness on the Edge of Town". Such live versions appear on Springsteen's In Concert/MTV Plugged (1993) and Live in New York City (2001) albums. For the 2006 Bruce Springsteen with The Seeger Sessions Band Tour, "Atlantic City" was drastically rearranged and featured multiple outros; as such it appears on the Live in Dublin (2007) album.
The song "Atlantic City" has been covered by other artists, here presented in chronological order:
- The Reivers (1986)
- BoDeans (1987)
- The Band on Jericho (1993)
- Scooter & The Streethearts (1996)
- Counting Crows (1997)
- Kurt Neumann of the BoDeans (1997)
- Rollin' in the Hay (1998)
- The Badlees on The Day's Parade, Rite-Off Records Catalog # 1135-2 (1998)
- Hank Williams III on Badlands: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska (2000)
- John Anderson (2001)
- Common Streets (Ron Junker, Mike Gatto) on Garden State of Mind, Vol. 1 (2002)
- Sticks and Stones on The Strife and The Times (2003)
- Pete Yorn on Live from New Jersey (2004)
- Ed Harcourt on Elephant's Graveyard (2005)
- Eddie Vedder (2005)
- Mason Jennings
- The Muckrakers (single digital release)
- Automatic 7 on At Funeral Speed (2007)
- Paul Baribeau and Ginger Alford for their "Darkness on the Edge of Your Town Tour" CD and Tour (2006, re-released 2009)
- Rodney Parker and Fifty Peso Reward on The Lonesome Dirge (2008)
- Levon Helm from the album FestivaLink presents Levon Helm Band MerleFest Ramble at MerleFest (April 26, 2008)
- Mat Kearney (2009)
- The Hold Steady on War Child's Heroes compilation (2009)
- Jamie T Emilys Heart Single (2010)
- Justin Townes Earle on The Onion's The A.V. Club
- Gerhard Gundermann made a German version of the song
- Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem 97x Green Room October 21, 2008
- The Racket Boys (2009)
- Benjamin Francis Leftwich (2011)
- Geoff Rickly of Thursday (band) 2012 Warped Tour
- Ben Harper at the Machine Shop August 20, 2012
- Mumford & Sons, with Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, on their Daytrotter Session, October 1, 2012
- Peter Joseph Burtt, 2013 Bone to Stone
- Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, August 25, 2013 The Vic Theatre Chicago
- Ed Sheeran at Maida Vale May 2014
- Jason Isbell (2010)
- Chris Cornell (2012)
- Greensky Bluegrass on JamCruise 2013, Red Rocks Aug. 6, 2015, Delfest May 29, 2016
- Mumford and Sons and friends at the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover June 6, 2015, at Seaside Heights, NJ
- Joe Russo's Almost Dead 2015, 2017, 2018
- Amy Helm and the Handsome Strangers for Radio Woodstock's Garden Sessions (November 17, 2015)
- The Wooks on Little Circles (2016)
- The Weight Band and Jim Weider, Rock Legends Cruise V (2017)
- Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (March 12, 2018)
- beat salad (March 08, 2018)
- Riley Green (2016)
- Dawn Landes and the Kentuckians, Covers EP, featuring Jim James (My Morning Jacket) (2014) - Track #1
- Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, Old Crow Medicine Show, and The Head and The Heart, Outlaw Music Festival, Clarkston, MI (June 24, 2018)
- Poor Man's Whiskey (2018)
- Greene, Andy (4 February 2016). "Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Bruce Springsteen Songs of the 1980s". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
- "Cold Case; Hot Tunes; Springsteen's Soundtrack". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
- "Chris Christie on 'SNL'". Politico.com. Retrieved January 5, 2013.