Atlantic City is a place mainly known for its casinos. In many places, gambling is associated with organised crime, destitution and desperation.
The tale told here is one of a man who has moved to Atlantic City and is slowly drawn into crime to support himself and his girlfriend, losing a part of his identity in the process. The “Chicken Man” referenced in the song is Philadelphia Mafia boss Philip Testa.
The song is a classic Springsteen formula of guitar and harmonica. But what makes Atlantic City so special is that everything is played by Springsteen and recorded in his bedroom. It’s a recording which is all the more powerful for its simplicity, and in classic folk rock fashion, Springsteen’s voice and his guitar are the key elements.
“Atlantic City” appears on Springsteen’s 1982 album, Nebraska.