I own just about the entire Bruce Springsteen catalog, but I have to say that Tunnel Of Love is not an album I have visited very often in recent years. I had to re-introduce myself to the music of this release and it was a pleasant trip.
Tunnel Of Love was released in October of 1987 and marked another turn in musical direction and vision for Bruce Springsteen. Coming on the heels of the massively popular Born In The U.S.A. and following the stark stories of Nebraska; it was a deeply personal and introspective creation.
Springsteen's marriage to actress Julianne Phillips was falling apart and his future wife, Patti Scialfa, was singing back-up vocals for him. The thoughtful, direct lyrics spoke of lost love, despair and the ending of relationships. This series of autobiographical short stories set to music would be some of the most intimate looks into his personal life that he would produce during his career.
From the first song, “Ain’t Got You,” which deals with being a star and having everything but the girl to the mellow and even painful album closer, “Valentine’s Day,” it is a look into the feelings and inner thoughts of one of music’s superstars.
I find it interesting that the most accessible songs musically, which would all become top twenty hits in the United States, form the foundation of his exploration of relationship loss. The title song, “Tunnel Of Love,” uses the imagery of a carnival ride to explore the difficulties of marriage. This creative song would contain some of his most intricate musical sounds. “Brilliant Disguise” explores what lies behind the masks that people present in public. What Springsteen finds is doubt and a lack of trust. “One Step Up” is a poetic look at the recurring themes of broken relationships and loss.
My favorite track was “Spare Parts” which looks at the sad reality of some relationships from the perspective of a bar band.
In many ways, Tunnel Of Love, is a product of a specific period of time in the life of Bruce Springsteen and as such is dated as he has moved on and is hopefully a better person for the experience. What is left behind is wonderful and personal lyrics clothed in some of the most sophisticated music that he would create. It is an album I will visit more often in the future. .