The song depicts a young couple's romantic escape to the New Jersey city Atlantic City, but also wrestles with the inevitability of death as the man in the relationship intends to take a job in organized crime once 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…
Well they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night,
Now they blew up his house too.
Down on the boardwalk they're gettin' ready for a fight,
Gonna see what them racket boys can do.