Atlantic City (3:56)

Cover of Greatest Hits

From Greatest Hits and 65 other releases

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 house too.” (The “chicken man” was a mafia boss named Philip Testa, who was killed by a bomb planted at his house in Philadelphia in March 1981. ) The song also evokes the widespread uncertainty regarding gambling during its early years in Atlantic City and its promises to resurrect the city. This uncertainty and the man’s uncertainty about taking the less-than-savory job are echoed in the lyrics “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact, but maybe everything that dies some day comes back.”

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