Sparks Fly On E Street: Bruce Springsteen, “Tunnel Of Love” (1987)

I can appreciate the clever use of the amusement park/life metaphor. Starting off in the tunnel of love but ending up in the haunted house? Yeah, life can be like that. But by the time I’d gotten to Tunnel Of Love‘s title track, I’d kind of written the whole thing off.

In arguments about this record, people have brought up things such as Nils Lofgren’s guitar solo as evidence of the tune’s greatness. While I won’t deny that it’s a fun solo, it was never able to save the track for me. The chiming keyboards that build the main lines of the chorus just rub me the wrong way. Actually, so much so that when I’ve heard boots from this tour, the Miami Horns versions seem no different. The song’s opening segment, with the amusement parks sounds and (for this record) some fairly aggressive (if machine-like) drums, had me waiting for the big explosion — but all there was was more strummed acoustic guitar and watery keyboard lines.

When I read anecdotes about Tunnel‘s at-home recording process, I’m sometimes skeptical of what’s reported. Bruce really had band members come in for “Beat the Demo” sessions? Seriously? I can’t imagine how low the musical bar had been set if the E-Street contributions to this record are “better” than the original material. I can imagine the look on Steve Van Zandt’s face, though.

Up next: Two Faces

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.