Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” Has Never Been More Heartbreaking

It used to be a song about mob violence, but now it sounds like a prayer to the Jersey Shore.

Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” was always one of his darkest hits, a stark acoustic ballad from arguably the most dour album in his catalog. It’s a song about a pair of lovers escaping to Atlantic City but not being able to get away from mob violence and a feeling of impending doom. The lyrics sound a bit different today, though. In light of the destruction of Atlantic City’s iconic boardwalk in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the mafia context falls away, and it comes off like prayer to this sordid little city on the coast of Springsteen’s beloved New Jersey. The words that ring out are the most hopeful, but also the most devastating: “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact, but maybe everything that dies someday comes back.” Let’s hope so, Bruce.

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