Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Bruce Springsteen -- Tunnel of Love
After Born In the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen found himself at the height of fame and adoration. He was now married to a woman the Elite Modeling Agency referred to as a "perfect ten package." He had everything he thought he ever wanted...
In the true spirit of the human condition, three years after Born In the U.S.A., Springsteen returned with a forlorn album full of disappointment.
Tunnel of Love's title is true. Every song revolves around a romantic relationship between a man and a woman. These songs are lyrically as deep as anything Bruce has ever written, but knowing later what he was going through casts them in a more difficult light. Tunnel of Love was released a year before Springsteen and his spouse filed for divorce. That explains the reason most of the relationships described in Tunnel of Love's songs are on the rocks. This also sets the stage for the album's greatest asset: the juxtaposition of Bruce's desire to act like a man with his own disappointment that he hasn't turned out to be man he thought he would. On those terms, Tunnel of Love becomes a confessional, and another honest narrative from a great artist.
There is a reason I don't rank Tunnel of Love among Springsteen's greats, though:
Lack of energy. Bruce performed the majority of Tunnel of Love without his usual co-horts, the E-Street Band, and the deficit shows. On one hand, their near absence makes sense. Bruce seems kind of sick of himself here, and purposely (Nebraska was sort of a happy accident) strays far from his trademark sound. Little here is upbeat, which would be fine if the album had more oomph, but it doesn't. The tempos and sounds are a little too similar throughout (this is the other hand) , and some spontaneity would have been appreciated. Then again, spontaniety is something Springsteen was known for, so perhaps this is a willing departure as well. Whatever the case, Tunnel of Love is a landmark release in Springsteen's catalog, but due to limitations inherent in its own nature, a minor one.
1. Ain't Got You 2:11
2. Tougher Than the Rest 4:35
3. All That Heaven Will Allow 2:39
4. Spare Parts 3:44
5. Cautious Man 3:58
6. Walk Like a Man 3:45
7. Tunnel of Love 5:12
8. Two Faces Springsteen 3:03
9. Brilliant Disguise Springsteen 4:17
10. One Step Up Springsteen 4:22
11. When You're Alone Springsteen 3:23
12. Valentine's Day Springsteen 5:11