Bruce Springsteen – Atlantic City

Year :
The Decemberists / The Hold Steady / Arcade Fire

For most of my music listening life I didn’t care much about Bruce Springsteen, one way or the other. At one point, VH1 told me that “Born to Run” is something like the 5th greatest song ever. I listened to it. If you say so.

Somewhere along the line, though, I managed to stumble onto “Nebraska.” While undoubtedly still Brucey to the max, it’s a different Bruce than the one I knew from “Born to Run.” The band apparently hit some traffic on E-Street on the way to the studio. The entire album is mostly just Bruce, a guitar, and harmonica. It’s good. There, I said it.

Springsteen is definitely an all or nothing idea. If you buy in the general mythology, there is a rich library of music to comb through. If you don’t buy in, however, the whole endeavor just collapses under it’s own weight and he sounds like a blowhard.

COP OUT ALERT: Maybe it’s a matter of taste. Maybe it’s his insistence on “important” issues, or maybe its just a million baby boomers shoving it down your throat. I can’t really fault anyone for not liking his music.

But, if you can suspend disbelief, I find him to be, at his best, an excellent storyteller. Not a rock savior, but a thoughtful guy making music in a certain mode.

* * *

Ok, so about the song.

“Atlantic City” rises to the top of the Bruce discography for me mainly because rather than try to put words to some larger than life existential problem, he goes specific, historical.

“Well, they blew up the Chicken Man in Philly last night,” he sings at the start. Either this is the worst lyric ever, or there’s a story here. And sure enough there is.

It’s a character song, a crime song, a folk song. It could be a Decemberists song.

But it manages to be something else too.

Well now, everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City

Maybe it’s the delivery. Maybe it’s where I am in life. These words feel right to me.

Maybe it’s good.

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(@YahSureMan) is the Founder of The Daily Soundtrack and Bark Attack Media. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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