You would have had to have been there, but when Bruce Springsteen first came along, it was very hard for a lot of folks to accept his schtick as genuine. That smiling face and that big black sax player and that nostalgia about New Jersey (of all places) led some to think thoughts which might nowadays be associated with Boy Bands.

The first few years of the 1970s was the time of "new music" for most folks who cared about that sort of stuff. The honesty in music was reaching a brand new level with stuff like:

And so much other excellent stuff you've never even heard of. Bob Dylan had hit a brick wall around this time, but his influence was showing up everywhere. Real stories in songs, and they weren't just about teen angst any more. Well, some were, but many of them were about the bigger issues. It was the evolution of the pop song Sixties into a sort of maturity, and that little dude from New Jersey looked like he didn't fit in. Plus, he worked too damn hard on stage. Who'd he think he was? A white James Brown? We wanted a break on that one. We had come to expect our artists, like Duane Allman, to look down at what they were doing and pay attention to the task at hand, like a jazz pianist or something.

Yet, when I first heard The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle I was blown away. I wore that vinyl record out, playing it not only for myself but everyone else I knew. I was teaching Freshman English at the time, and I used "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" for the poetry part of the class. He was one of a select group (Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Jesse Winchester) who got played on the old turntable the University let me borrow from the A/V Dept. for my introduction to modern poetry. And, truth be told, I played it as much for the way it sounded as for the story it told.

After that, I lost interest in The Boss for a long time. It was almost ten years later when he put out Nebraska. I picked it up on a whim one day, and there's not many songs in my life that have affected me the way Atlantic City did.

It's a lot like the old songs from back in the Wild and Innocent days, but it's a story told without all the embellishments. It's taken down to the bare bones and told with a desperation that makes you cold when you stop to ponder all the wannabe gangsters who have lived this life in underground America and all the other undergrounds all over the mobsterized world.

This is also the name of a fairly good movie with Susan Sarandon and an elderly Burt Lancaster, made in 1980. I have always suspected that watching this movie led to the whole concept of this dark song by the Boss.

But the thing you want to pay attention to here is the rationalization. "Everything dies. Baby, that's a fact. But maybe everything that dies someday comes back?" Can't you just imagine any murderer for hire with a conscience running that one through his mind a few times? Beautiful stuff.



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

Now there's trouble busin' in from outta state
And the D.A. can't get no relief
Gonna be a rumble out on the promenade
And the gamblin' commission's hangin' on by the skin of its teeth

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

Well I got a job and tried to put my money away
But I got debts that no honest man can pay
So I drew what I had from the Central Trust
And I bought us two tickets on that Coast City bus

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

Now our luck may have died and our love may be cold
But with you forever I'll stay
We're goin' out where the sand's turnin' to gold
So put on your stockin's baby 'cause the night's getting cold
And everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back

Now I been lookin' for a job but it's hard to find
Down here it's just winners and losers
And don't get caught on the wrong side of that line
Well I'm tired of comin' out on the losin' end
So honey last night I met this guy
And I'm gonna do a little favor for him

Well I guess everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your hair up nice and set up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City
Meet me tonight in Atlantic City
Meet me tonight in Atlantic City



CST Approved

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