The Geordie Springsteen, aka Sam Fender, is on the cusp of returning with his brand new single, ‘Seventeen Going Under’. With that in mind, it would be remiss of us not to take a trip down memory lane and revisit his heartbreaking take on ‘Atlantic City’, from the New Jersey Springsteen, aka Bruce Springsteen, from 2018.
The comparisons between the two artists have been rife ever since the North Shields singer-songwriter emerged a couple of years ago with a similar anthemic force. His songwriting is wrapped up in rock and roll while telling tales about life in a forgotten working-class town.
Fender has been open about how he feels the pressure that comes with the tag and why he doesn’t believe he’s worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as his hero, The Boss. At the premiere of Springsteen On Broadway at the BFI London Film Festival in 2019, Fender got the opportunity to soak in the same air as his hero and spoke on the red carpet about how The Boss has influenced him.
“That is stupid, I’ve had one album out and I’m like a shit version of Springsteen,” he lamented. “The comparisons are just stupid, he is one of the greatest songwriters ever, he’s had 19 albums out and I’ve had one album out. I’m like a shit, north-eastern, Geordie version. I’m actually waiting for the court case for when he comes to get us for all of the songs I’ve ripped off.”
He added: “He’s my biggest hero, he’s my man, every single song, every album. My brother got me into him when I was 15 years old. I’m from a seaside town, a very blue-collar place with loads of funny comparisons – Jersey Shore and Geordie Shore, that is the obvious one.”
“He made rock n roll intelligent for me, it was the first time I had ever listened to lyrics. I mean I loved AC/DC and all that, just like guitar music about getting pissed and lasses and that but he was the first time that I felt like he was writing rock n roll music that was about my hometown.
Fender continued: “Even though he was writing about Jersey, it felt like he was writing about Shields and I felt like he was writing about my dad and my mother and my brother and all of my friends and all the people that went under in the 80s in my hometown, never mind Jersey.”
When the opportunity has arisen in radio or television sessions for Fender to deliver a cover of his choosing, Springsteen’s songbook has been his go-to. However, since the comparisons took over, Fender has had no choice but to look further afield rather than draw further side-by-side match-ups.
In 2018 before his career truly entered the stratosphere, Fender appeared on the Dutch music programme Vera On Track and performed a sensational stripped back, emotionally charged cover of ‘Atlantic City’.
Springsteen’s 1982 track paints Atlantic City as somewhere you can make your hopes and dreams possible, but a place where danger is always lurking just around the corner. The powerful track evokes an anxiety-filled fear in listeners as ‘Atlantic City’ chronicles the journey of a couple who are fighting for their lives. Fender eloquently manages to replicate this same feeling with his intense yet, hauntingly beautiful cover.
Fender pours his heart into the sempiternal line, “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact, but maybe everything that dies someday comes back,” and the cover is a payoff for all those hours spent playing along to Springsteen in his bedroom as a teenager.