Published on May 4th, 2015 | by Kim Kurtenbach0
Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love
We take a look at a mid-career release from Bruce Springsteen, Tunnel of Love, the follow up to the monstrously successful Born in the USA.
Ah, Bruce. For too long, I have dismissed the Boss as ‘your dad’s music.’ Though it was the last time I had to ask who Bruce Springsteen was, I didn’t understand ‘Born in the USA’ when it arrived on that hot summer afternoon in 1984. That album was the soundtrack to every political situation, the entire social economy, and every pit party in the good ‘ol USA (as well as Canada and about 40 other countries around the world) for what seemed like years. Hell of an album. But this one is my favourite: Tunnel of Love.
After over three and a half years, Springsteen made ‘Tunnel of Love,’ the follow up to an album that was so massive it sold over 30 million copies worldwide, had seven Top Ten singles, spawned a two year tour with a guy that plays harder every night than anyone ever (except maybe James Brown), and made him incredibly stinky ass-hat rich. So who, in their right mind, would want to make a follow up to THAT? Sounds like a shit job. I can imagine it was no simple task, but the result is both fascinating and rewarding to listeners.
There’s Bruce on the cover in a Kentucky necktie, leaning on the door of his custom painted Cadillac Coupe De Ville and looking a little weary. Unlike its immediate predecessor, ‘Tunnel of Love’ [ToL] doesn’t start out sounding like the 80s. It’s not until the 7th and title track that Bruce reminds us that he’s making this album with the production of 80s mindset. The opening two tracks are my favourite one-two punch of all Springsteen records. The first track says what we’re all thinking: Bruce is rich, and listing all the things his money can’t do, because he’s the ultimate everyman, music’s Harrison Ford, too fuckin’ cool for money, even though he’s got a ton of it.
‘Tougher Than the Rest’ is his best proviso love song, as all Bruce’s songs of love come with some sort of caveat. And at this point of the album, I’m reminded of two facts about Bruce: he’s not a great singer, and he’s not a great musician. He IS, however, magnetic enough to attract the very best of musicians to surround him and pound out tight rock jams until well past the bedtime of most people. He is also such a great songwriter that he becomes The Great American Storyteller, even when you want to over-think his lyrics and realize that, from time to time, they are nothing more than the best thing an eager, talented tenth grader ever wrote. But Bruce…he’s so cool! And there is a lot of forgiveness in lyrical content when the music surrounding it makes us feel good, or for that matter, even if it makes us feel sad, or self-reflective, or precarious. Bruce Springsteen records make us do all those things.
If you’ve settled into ToL by this point, you will bounce along to the end, tune after tune digging into your ear and echoing for days. His songs may be ominous even when they’re at their most beautiful, but they are never mired in despondency because they always have a glimmer of hope. Nothing more, just a glimmer of hope, and it reaches us all by the millions. We all need a Springsteen album in our collection for those inevitable times of needing a little pick-me-up from the most spectacular of regular guys. So the next time old TV trivia comes around and someone asks you, “Who was the boss, Tony or Angela?” tell them, shut up, neither. Bruce Springsteen is the fucking boss.