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Monday, 9 October 2017

Revisiting Tunnel of Love - Bruce Springsteen (1987)

Tunnel of Love - Bruce Springsteen
Produced by Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Plotkin and Jon Landau
Released 9th October 1987
US Chart #1
UK Chart #1
Canadian Chart #1
Italian Chart #1
Norwegian Chart #1
Spanish Chart #1
Swedish Chart #1 

Listen To The Album Here:

Side 1

Side 2
    Bruce Springsteen – lead vocals, backing vocals, guitar, mandolin, bass guitar, keyboards, harmonica, percussion, drum machines
    Roy Bittan – piano on "Brilliant Disguise", synthesizers on "Tunnel of Love"
    Clarence Clemons – backing vocals on "When You're Alone"
    Danny Federici – organ on "Tougher Than the Rest", "Spare Parts", "Two Faces", and "Brilliant Disguise"
    Nils Lofgren – guitar solo on "Tunnel of Love", backing vocals on "When You're Alone"
    Patti Scialfa – backing vocals on "Tunnel of Love", "One Step Up" and "When You're Alone"
    Garry Tallent – bass guitar on "Spare Parts"
    Max Weinberg – drums on "All That Heaven Will Allow", "Two Faces" and "When You're Alone"; percussion on "Tougher Than the Rest", "Spare Parts", "Walk Like a Man", "Tunnel of Love", and "Brilliant Disguise"
    James Wood – harmonica on "Spare Parts"

Singles/EPs on and Connected to Tunnel of Love
(Click on the Links Below to Watch Promo Videos and listen to Audio Tracks)

B-Side: Lucky Man

Released September 1987
US Chart #5
UK Chart #20

Was also released as a Postcard Picture Disc in the UK and 12".

Released November 1987
US Chart #9
UK Chart #45

A-Side: One Step Up

B-Side: Roulette

Released February 1988 (US Release and in Parts of Europe)
US Chart #13
Dutch Chart #44

There was also a two 12" versions featuring different tracks
Featured Roulette and Be True (Live)

Roulette and Born To Run (Acoustic Live)
Released June 1988 (UK)
UK Chart #13

Side 1
Tougher Than The Rest (Live)
Be True (Live)

Side 2
Released August 1988 (US and Parts of Europe)
Did Not Chart

Spare Parts was released on two 12" Discs in the UK and also on 7" (this had Spare Parts on the A-Side and Spare Parts - Live on the B-Side)



The second 12"
Spare Parts

Spare Parts (Live)
Chimes of Freedom (Live
Released August 1988
UK Chart #32

US Promo CD
1. All That Heaven Will Allow
2. One Step Up
3. Roulette
4. Be True
5. Pink Cadillac


Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the release of Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen.

I know a lot of people who point toward Tunnel of Love as their favourite Bruce Springsteen album, and just as many who like it but are not crazy about it in the same way as they are about say Born To Run or Darkness on the Edge of Town. I think that just shows that Bruce's music connects with people in different ways and it would be very boring if we were all the same and liked exactly the same things!

The album is regarded as a Solo record despite the fact that pretty much all the members of the E Street Band feature on the album but they don't all feature on every track (see Personnel list above to see which members played on what specific tracks). It wouldn't be until The Rising in 2002 that the band would all record an album together (though there had been an odd track or two here and there).

One of the things that is quite clear with Bruce Springsteen is that he never makes the same album twice. Tunnel of Love is not Born In The U.S.A. Mark 2. It stands apart as an album in which we caught a glimpse into the actual mind and heart of Springsteen in a way we had never done so on previous recordings. There's a very personal element to it that caused many to wonder just what on earth was going on inside The Boss.

In his Autobiography Born To Run (just recently published in Paperback after a very successful Hardback Edition last year) he devotes Chapter 51 to the Tunnel of Love. Here we find a few things that were going on inside his head and heart.
"After Born in the USA, I'd had enough of the big time for a while and looked forward to something less." (P348 Paperback Edition)

"My first full record about men and women in love would be a pretty rough affair. Filled with inner turmoil, I wrote to make sense of my feelings." (P349)

"I had a left-field hit with Brilliant Disguise, the song that sits thematically at the record's center. Trust is a fragile thing. It requires allowing others to see as much of ourselves as we have the courage to reveal. But Brilliant Disguise postulates that when you drop one mask, you find another behind it until you begin to doubt your own feelings about who you are. The twin issues of love and identity form the core of Tunnel of Love, but time is Tunnel's unofficial subtext." (P349)

In his Anthology of Lyrics, Songs, he would speak of the striking change of pace, mood and emotional landscape on Tunnel of Love as  being his desire to reintroduce himself as a "songwriter". Or as Gavin Martin put it in The Ultimate Music Guide Springsteen put out by the makers of Uncut magazine, "it was time to strip away the protection of the band and get personal."

The critics were all very welcoming of the album and all pointed to the focus on relationships that the album possessed. Steve Pond, writing for Rolling Stone summed it up nicely:

 "On Tunnel of Love, Springsteen is writing about the promises people make to each other and the way they renege on those promises, about the romantic dreams we're brought up with and the internal demons that stifle those dreams. The battleground has moved from the streets to the sheets, but the battle hasn't changed significantly."

My personal favourites on the album are Tougher Than The Rest, Spare Parts, Brilliant Disguise and Walk Like A Man. If you were twisting my arm trying to get what I think is the best song on it well I'd have to go with Spare Parts (of course everyone has a different one to me and that's fine).

Some of the songs are not easy to listen to, Walk Like A Man reminds me of my own father seeing me get married and since his passing those words at the end of the song are like some kind of daily challenge!:

"Now I'll do what I can
I'll walk like a man
And I'll keep on walkin'."

There's an honesty to the record that Springsteen brings that just shows you can have everything but if "I Ain't Got You", then you have very little! It shows that relationships can be messy, and that there is pain, abandonment (sometimes), deceit, failure, pleasure and faithfulness - a picture of what our lives are often like within our own relationships. I think that's why a lot of people connect with Tunnel of Love because they see a lot of themselves in it.

Happy Birthday To The Tunnel!

"Then the lights go out and it's just the three of us, yeah
You, me and all that stuff we're so scared of
Gotta ride down baby into this tunnel of love"

What The Fans Say
I asked the folk of a Springsteen Group on Facebook called Brucebook for some of their thoughts/memories around and about the Tunnel of Love
Here's what a few of them had to say:

  "Even though it was considered a solo album, many ESB members played on my faves; Nils solo on TOL and Roy's organ outro on 2 Faces.." - Christian Griffin (USA)

 "Two Faces... the sleeper song of the album... Done in an even better form than the album, solo during the Devils and Dust tour, with Bruce on piano *vocalising* the synth parts at the end in a falsetto wail... such a dark, brooding lyric. Haunting stuff." - Scott Johnson (Perth, Australia)

"Although my family is firmly rooted on the east coast, I didn’t discover Bruce until I went to college in Texas (!) and was introduced to his music by a Texas-born boyfriend via Nebraska. TOL was the first Bruce tape I bought on my own and the storytelling and emotions in those songs, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, all of it raw and real, just blew me away. The short, to the point dedication in the liner notes got me, too, especially when that boyfriend and I broke up. TOL is the album that made me a Bruce fan for life. From Ain’t Got You and All That Heaven Will Allow to Valentine’s Day, and everything in between (One Step Up is an absolute favorite), that album does it for me every time I listen." - Lorraine Scaduto Bachand (USA)

"Tunnel of Love signifies a change in Bruce. The album cover with his dressed up look caught my eye. The songs were so personal. I felt like these songs really open a window into Bruce’s heart vs what we had heard before had been a window in Bruce’s home. When your’re alone, two faces and brilliant disguise all gave this window to me." - Deirdre Brownlow

"After listening to Bruce casually for years, even going to a few concerts with my fan-boyfriend-then-husband, my own true fandom didn’t click until TOL. The lyrics are, in my opinion, the most consistently poetically beautiful he has ever written, and the melodies are simple and lovely. It touches me every time I listen, and I often listen all the way through." - Carol Hempfling Pratt (USA)

"It is often compared to Dylan's Blood On The Tracks as a great "breakup" album." - John J. Kelly (USA)

"I think Tunnel of Love is the first album Bruce wrote that really connected at the core with women. It just deals with so many raw emotions and very personal feelings, women could relate to it on a different level than his other albums. For me, personally, it came at a very important time. I had been a fan since seeing him in 1978 on the Darkness tour. But I was in a relationship with someone at that point and I thought I had found my forever love. Unfortunately, right after Tunnel came out, we broke up. I was heartbroken in that way that it physically hurts and some days, the only thing that got me through was going for long walks, holding my Sony Walkman and playing that Tunnel cassette over and over, particularly One Step Up. I could literally listen to that song 50 times a day. I would love someday to see him do it live but I can't imagine the emotions it would bring out in me." - Janet Graham (USA)

"My friend and I each got our copy on release day put it in our Walkmans, tuned out the world as we listened when we were done looked at each other and said "He is getting divorced" You could just feel his pain and angst and the changes that were about to take place." - Cindy Sabathie Fahy (USA)

"My three year old sang every word, thirty years later Bruce still in our lives, that's beyond brilliant." - Ken Burton (USA)

"Remember the concert at Sheffield for the Tunnel of Love tour as though it were yesterday. Bruce threw red roses 🌹 to those at the front of the stage... we were in the side stands (Bramhall Lane FC) .... lovely summer day." -  Liz Lovell (UK)

"I remember buying the album upon its release day , listened to it till the tape wore out . Then going to see Bruce in the RDS, Dublin ( his first of many gigs there) lying in the grass on a beautiful sunny day waiting for the concert to begin . It was an amazing concert , to hear the songs played live in comparison to the tinny sound from a tape deck . The memories still live long . I loved the album then and I love it even more as an adult. One of his finest albums." - Clodagh Byrne (USA)

"Saw the concert in Chapel Hill. As soon as Bruce and Patti started to sing together (to each other), it was obvious things were rockin!" - Sharrie Watson Reardon (USA)

"TOL came out in Oct 1987. It was the Fall of my Senior Year of college up in Brunswick, Maine. My college roommates and I played the CD constantly til we graduated. Just an incredible record. I finally got to see it live in Worcester, Ma on Opening Night of that tour. Unforgettable year!" - David Mazzella (USA)

"My favorite tour! And my 2nd favorite Bruce album to “Darkness.” " - Larry Adelman (USA)

"I found Tunnel of Love this year (2017) after having read Bruce's autobiography. I decided to start listening to the albums one by one. After being with my spouse for over 40 years, the lyrics of this album described the inner thoughts of being in the partnership called marriage." - Betsy Waterman Gubbels (USA)

"My first chance to see a live show, in Barcelona, I missed the one in 1981 for the River tour. I could enjoy it from the first line, stuck on the stage from the very beginning to the end Nobody could move me away!!. Still remember that august night." - Rosa Maria Garcia Alba (Spain)

Tunnel of Love Bonus

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