Atlantic City (song)

"Atlantic City" is a song written and recorded by rock musician Bruce Springsteen, which first appeared on Springsteen's 1982 solo album Nebraska. Springsteen has often played the song in a full band arrangement in concert.


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."

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 "chicken man" was mafia boss Philip Testa, who was killed by a bomb planted at 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."

Although the song came out around the same time as the film of the same name, the two works are unrelated.

The song is included on his 1995 Greatest Hits album and on the 2003 compilation The Essential Bruce Springsteen.

This was one of nine songs that was featured in an episode of the television series Cold Case and played during its climactic murder scene. In 2012 following Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie quoted the songs chorus during a cameo on Saturday Night Live.

Music video

A music video 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.

Live performances

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)
  • Kim Fox (1997)
  • Rollin' in the Hay (1998)
  • The Badlees on The Day's Parade, Rite-Off Records Catalog# 1135-2 (1998)
  • John Anderson (2001)
  • Hank Williams III on Lovesick, Broke and Driftin' (2002)
  • 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)
  • The Muckrakers (single digital release)
  • Atticus Finch
  • 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 (4/26/2008)
  • 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)
  • Kyle Morton of Typhoon (American_band), with Danielle Sullivan Oct 17, 2010
  • 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
  • Grace Potter and the Nocternals, August 25, 2013 The Vic Theatre Chicago
  • Ed Sheeran at Maida Vale May 2014
  • Couple Days on Pretty Good (2014)
  • Greensky Bluegrass on JamCruise 2013


  • The Bruce Springsteen Discography by Matt and Lori Orel
  • AMG review


External links

  • "Atlantic City" lyrics
  • Single covers from the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, UK and Japan
  • Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

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