Tunnel Of Love
Born In The USA transformed Springsteen into a cultural icon and a brand, attaining a stratospheric level of critical acceptance and public attention. According to Springsteen’s release cycle, however, it was time for a difficult album again. Tunnel Of Love is more downbeat and somber than its predecessor, with no ebullient pop hits like ‘Glory Days’, although it’s still melodic and approachable. Based around the ups and downs of Springsteen’s brief marriage with model Julianne Philips, Tunnel Of Love shows a deepening maturity from Springsteen and the songs are more personal than anything he’d written earlier.
The material is two paced – the best is outstanding, but the lesser songs are disposable, like the bluesy rocker ‘Spare Parts’ and the opening a capella ‘Ain’t Got You’. It’s the more sophisticated pieces that shine in the low key approach, and songs like the ‘One Step Up’, ‘Brilliant Disguise’, and ‘Walk Like A Man’ impress with their eloquence and pretty melodies. The terrific ‘One Step Up’ states “When I look at myself I don’t see/The man I wanted to be/Somewhere along the line I slipped off track/I’m caught movin’ one step up and two steps back,” while in the poignant ‘Walk Like A Man’ Springsteen declares “as I watch my bride come down the aisle/I pray for the strength to walk like a man.” Other highlights include the driving pop of ‘Tougher Than The Rest’, the catchy ‘Brilliant Disguise’ and the heady title track, with its swirling synthesisers.
As much as I love the best half of Tunnel Of Love, I can’t really go higher than a 8 on it, since the other half isn’t nearly as interesting, but some of Springsteen’s best and most heartfelt songs are here regardless.