We’ve already done one Atlantic City song in the 350 Jersey Songs series, and will probably get to the most famous one (by Bruce Springsteen) sooner or later. But in the meantime, here’s one you probably haven’t heard before: “Atlantic City (Gonna Make a Million Tonight),” by F.M. Cornog of Summit, who records under the name East River Pipe.
A track from the 1999 East River Pipe album, “The Gasoline Age,” “Atlantic City (Gonna Make a Million Tonight)” is the mantra of a guy on his way to New Jersey’s largest resort city, where he wants to strike it rich, but, we all know, is probably going to walk away a big loser.
He’s had a rough childhood (“My daddy beat me every day”) that left him shattered (“Once your mind’s in pieces does it just get worse”), and a failed relationship (“Baby, I was your curse”), and these trips to Atlantic City seem to be habitual (“I keep travelin’ these highways in a long, black hearse”). In his plea, “Atlantic City, take it all away,” he’s asking for an influx of money to take away his problems. But — perhaps — subconsciously and masochistically he really wants the gambling palaces to take away all his money.
The song goes on and on, as if it’s a nightmare from which the singer can’t escape. That’s one way to look at it, at least.
Anyway, like a lot of Cornog’s work, it’s dark and low-key, but subtly insinuating. Listen to it a couple of times, and it will probably stay in your head awhile.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.