The story behind the song Dark Stars

Atlantic City’s original Steel Pier, which opened in 1898, was an amusement pier that at one time extended more than 2,000 feet from the boardwalk out over the ocean. The Steel Pier had a carousel, a diving bell, games of chance, movie theaters, a music hall featuring acts like Frank Sinatra, and a water circus at the far end of the pier. Perhaps its best-known attraction was a high-diving horse that jumped, with its rider, from a high platform into the ocean.

My father had gone to Atlantic City many times as a child, and he remembered the Steel Pier fondly. So, many years later, he asked me to join him to revisit the source of his happy memories.

What we found was an attraction that had fallen into disrepair; only a few visitors were there. Everything looked dusty and neglected; a small cover band played to an empty ballroom, and out-of-date movies were showing in the theaters. The kids running the carnival games begged us to play because they hadn’t had a customer all day. The only thing that hadn’t changed was the high-diving horse. I sat with my father in the grandstand along with a handful of others and watched the horse leap into the sea, as if nothing had changed.

This is a song about that final visit to Atlantic City’s original Steel Pier.