“On his right hand Billy tattooed the word love and on his left hand was the word fear. And in which hand he held his fate was never clear”
I think Darkness on the edge of town is Springsteen’s best album, but I think Tunnel of Love is his most overlooked record. This is a quiet, often acoustic country-tinged album that has become more important to me the older I get.
It might sound less than Springsteen than his earlier albums, and he really goes a long way towards country music, but that’s ok, I really like it. He released it while still touring with the E Street Band, but its sound signified a marked departure from the driving rock of his earlier albums.
“God have mercy on the man who doubts what he’s sure of.”
It’s a mix of Nebraska and Darkness with strong melodies and more melancholy. The Songs are about lost opportunities, misplaced love and regrets. It is a very sad album, maybe that is why Springsteen rarely play these songs in concert. He should play them, they are among his best.
The sleeve notes to the record Springsteen writes “Thanks Julie”.
Bruce Springsteen comes off as a tired man, is it his break-up record, his divorce album? It certainly sound like it. Great art sometimes comes from pain, and this album contains great art.
His marriages are falling to pieces, both to his wife and to his band. He records this album at home, it is a true solo effort even if some E-Streeters dropped by to lend backing vocals or keyboard parts to certain tracks.
It is also a “what’s the meaning of love?” record.
Lyrically, Tunnel of Love showed us some of Springsteen’s sharpest writing to date.The songs have been covered a lot and these tunes prove especially attractive to musicians in the folk, country and singer-songwriter genre. You’ll be baffled by the number of country artists who took a crack at “Tougher than the Rest.” As I said it has songs about lost love and regrets and what’s more country than that?
“Would they ever look so happy again the handsome groom and his bride?” Springsteen sings in Walk like a man.
Bruce and Julie filed for divorce less than a year after the release of the album.
As a teenager thirsting to escape your hometown and fantasising about meeting the girl of your dreams, the urgency and optimism of Born to Run, the murky realism of Darkness on the Edge of Town, heartland rock of The River and Born in The USA will probably appeal more to you than Tunnel of Love. I know they did to me.
What a difference growing up make: today Tunnel of Love rings just as true to me as the albums mentioned above does.
My Favourite song on the album is Tougher than the rest, here is the official video:
Rolling Stone magazine said it best:
Initially, in fact, Tunnel of Love sounds not only modest but also playful, giddy and lightweight. “Ain’t Got You” is a funny, partially a cappella Bo Diddley-style rocker that jokes about Springsteen’s wealth (“I got a pound of caviar sitting home on ice/I got a fancy foreign car that rides like paradise”) but expresses yearning for the one thing money can’t buy (i.e., “you”). In the next two songs, “Tougher Than the Rest” and “All That Heaven Will Allow,” Springsteen is head over heels in love, convinced that the sun will shine as long as he’s got the right woman by his side. Those three songs are a light, romantic, lovely beginning, and then it all comes crashing down.
Bobby said he’d pull out Bobby stayed in/Janey had a baby it wasn’t any sin/They were set to marry on a summer day/Bobby got scared and he ran away.
The song, “Spare Parts,” is a road-house rocker reminiscent of Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited”; the sound is abrasive and harsh; the story is bleak; and the moral is hard: “Spare parts/And broken hearts/Keep the world turnin’ around.”
From that point on, times are tough. In “Cautious Man,” the main character has love tattooed on one hand, fear on the other (Springsteen’s lift from the film The Night of the Hunter, in which Robert Mitchum played a preacher with love and hate tattooed on his knuckles). The relationships in “Two Faces,” “Brilliant Disguise” and “One Step Up” (“and two steps back”) are crumbling as trust gives way to betrayal and recrimination: “Another fight and I slam the door on/Another battle in our dirty little war.” In the title song, Springsteen voices a fear that underlies the entire album: “It’s easy for two people to lose each other in/This tunnel of love.”
Read more Rolling Stone review Tunnel of Love
Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love on Spotify:
One thought on “October 9: Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen was released in 1987”
Thank you for a very acute and heartfelt piece of writing. Totally agree with you.
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