As mentioned numerous times on this blog, both myself and OB are degenerate gamblers. In fact, when I'm not writing about Bruce Springsteen, I write rambling reviews of my trips down to Atlantic City. In my most recent entry, I listed the 12 keys to a successful trip to Atlantic City. However, upon rereading it, I left out an important variable: music.
Even during the wildest weekends in Atlantic City, you will find yourself with a bit of downtime in your hotel room. Perhaps you are cracking open a few beers and getting ready for the night to come....or perhaps you are suffering from a vicious hangover you had from last night's activities. Regardless, nothing brightens up either scenario like some great tunes. This is why I always bring my iPod and a small speaker on each trip. Throughout the years, I've assembled a gambling playlist for Atlantic City, which, unsurprisingly, leans heavily on Bruce's song catalog. The songs are broken into three categories:
Category 1: Yeah, I guess there's some vague reference to gambling there
"Shackled and Drawn"
While other songs ("Rockaway the Days" and "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City") also reference gambling, "Shackled and Drawn" makes the list due to its the foot-stomping beat and Bruce's hollering. While the "gambling man" here is an obvious metaphor for the financial institutions of the country, as a literal gambling man, that one line creates quite the fantasy. Unfortunately,when I roll the dice, I still end up paying the bills.
"Land of Hope and Dreams"
I've written about this song plenty of times on this blog already, and have even highlighted how much I love the "whores and gamblers" line. Combined with "Shackled and Drawn", these two songs are like a shot of adrenaline, giving you the energy you'll need to pull an all-nighter on the town.
Category 2: Ooh, that's gambling, baby!
Wrecking Ball certainly is quite the album for gamblers, isn't it? While this song doesn't directly reference gambling, the attitude of "going on the town looking for easy money" is definitely the mindset of every Atlantic City visitor.
From Tracks, I was surprised to see this song make the top 100 Bruce songs list that came out a couple weeks ago. It was one of the rare songs that we had not yet covered on Legends of Springsteen. Like an angry version of "Hungry Heart", Bruce unveils his personal rage, showing a side of him rarely seen. I feel the same about the song "Roulette" on this playlist as I do about actual roulette in the casino- it isn't my favorite, but it would be weird if it wasn't there.
"Roll of the Dice"
Another song I've previously discussed on this site, this is Bruce on auto-pilot. It is simple song telling a simple story of a guy down on his luck and taking a chance, yet I can't help but get sucked in by it. It truly encapsulates the crazy optimism that gamblers have - despite losing all the time, we all think we're just a moment away from sipping champagne on ice. By the end of the song, as Bruce begs for "one more roll", I imagine him being dragged out of the casino by security guards. We've all been there, right?
Category 3: That's it, I gotta go to the casino! See you guys in 3 hours!
You knew this was coming, right? It's why you clicked on this link, admit it. Yet another frequently discussed song, this is one of my all-time favorites. Mind you, there are many versions of "Atlantic City", and each one has value to your gambling playlist. The above version is the electric version from 2000, and the upbeat sound works best as you prepare to go out for the night. The original acoustic version, however, is best listened to as you sober up, count your losses, and swear never to return to that wretched town again (but you know that's a lie).
"Viva Las Vegas"
Simply put, it is the greatest ode to gambling ever written, and we really must consider ourselves truly blessed that Bruce covered this song.
So, there you have it: put these songs on your iPod next time you hit a casino, and even if you wind up broke, you'll know you had a swinging time. Good luck on those aces, sirs!