Tunnel of Love (album)

Tunnel of Love is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, released on October 9, 1987. Although members of the E Street Band occasionally performed on the album, Springsteen recorded most of the parts himself, often with drum machines and synthesizers. While the album's liner notes list the E Street Band members under that name, Shore Fire Media, Springsteen's public relations firm, does not count it as an E Street Band album[2] and 2002's The Rising was advertised as his first studio album with the E Street Band since Born in the USA. The album won Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo at the 1988 Grammy Awards.

Tunnel of Love
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 9, 1987[1]
RecordedJanuary–July 1987
GenreRock, pop rock
Bruce Springsteen chronology
Tunnel of Love
Chimes of Freedom
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band chronology
Tunnel of Love
Chimes of Freedom
Singles from Tunnel of Love
  1. "Brilliant Disguise"
    Released: September 17, 1987
  2. "Tunnel of Love"
    Released: November 1987
  3. "One Step Up"
    Released: February 27, 1988 (US only)
  4. "Tougher Than the Rest"
    Released: June 23, 1988 (Europe only)
  5. "Spare Parts"
    Released: October 18, 1988 (Europe only)

In 1989, the album was ranked #25 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties"[3] while in 2012, Rolling Stone ranked it at #467 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[4] "Brilliant Disguise", "Tunnel of Love", "One Step Up", "Tougher Than the Rest", and "Spare Parts" were all released as singles.


The New York Times writer Jon Pareles said that Springsteen "turned inward" on this album, writing about "love gone wrong" in response to changes in his personal life, especially his crumbling marriage to Julianne Phillips, and his decision to leave the E Street Band.[5] Pareles said that most of the songs on the album were about the difficulty of mature love rather than Springsteen's earlier arena rock anthems to the working man. Tunnel of Love songs were described as "midtempo ballads or pop-rock hymns".[6] "Brilliant Disguise" has been called "a heart-wrenching song about never being really able to know someone".[7]

On the B-sides of vinyl and cassette singles, outtakes like "Lucky Man", "Two for the Road" and a 1979 track, "Roulette" were included. On the EP that accompanied the 1988 tour, Springsteen included album cut "Tougher Than the Rest", but included another River outtake, "Be True" a rearranged, acoustic "Born To Run", and a cover of Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom".

Commercially the album went triple Platinum in the US, with "Brilliant Disguise" being one of his biggest hit singles, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Tunnel of Love" also making the top 10, reaching #9, and "One Step Up" reaching the top 20 at #13.[8] The 1988 Springsteen and E Street Band Tunnel of Love Express tour would showcase the album's songs, sometimes in arrangements courtesy of the Miami Horns.[9]

Amusement park tunnel of love memorabilia was provided by the National Amusement Park Historical Association to be used on the record sleeve of the Tunnel of Love single.[10] A cover of "All That Heaven Will Allow" was a minor hit single for country band the Mavericks in 1995.[11]

Music videosEdit

Irish filmmaker Meiert Avis directed the music videos for "Brilliant Disguise", "One Step Up", "Tougher Than the Rest", and "Tunnel of Love". The videos were shot on location in New Jersey, including Asbury Park. The intensely personal "Brilliant Disguise" video broke new ground on MTV, being a single shot without edits. The video of the title track was nominated for five MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year and, paradoxically, Best Editing.

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [12]
Chicago Tribune    [13]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [14]
MusicHound Rock4/5[15]
Q     [17]
Rolling Stone     [18]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [19]
Tom HullA[20]
The Village VoiceA[21]

In a contemporary review for Playboy, music critic Robert Christgau wrote that, apart from the humorous opening track and the clichéd track that follows, Tunnel of Love is "convincing, original stuff—it zeroes in on fear of commitment as a pathology and battles it."[22] He particularly praised the album's introspective second half in his consumer guide for The Village Voice, saying that it showed Springsteen's decency and ability for self-examination.[21] Rolling Stone magazine's Steve Pond said that Tunnel of Love is "a varied, modestly scaled, modern-sounding pop album" rather than a rock and roll album and felt that its unromantic tales of love are similar to Springsteen's socially conscious work about broken promises and dreams in America:

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.[23]

In The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll, Tunnel of Love finished second in the voting for the year's best album.[24] Christgau, the poll's creator, named it the third best album of the year in his own list.[25] In 1989, the album was ranked #25 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties"[3] while in 2012, the same magazine ranked it at #467 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[4] In 1998, Q magazine readers voted Tunnel of Love the 91st greatest album of all time.[26][27]

Writing for America Magazine, Catholic priest and sociologist Andrew Greeley argued that this album exemplifies the American Catholic imagination.[28] In a 2014 article for Grantland, Steven Hyden said Tunnel of Love remained Springsteen's "most underrated record" among fans but in his own opinion, Springsteen's best lyrically. "You really shouldn't be allowed to hear this record until you've been married for a few years", Hyden wrote, "though at that point it might strike a little too close to home. If Ingmar Bergman had been born in Freehold and cut his artistic teeth at the Stone Pony, he would've made this record in place of Scenes From a Marriage. Totally '80s production aside ... this album represents the heaviest blues of Springsteen's career. The songs are about men and women who flirt, have sex, fall in love, get married, get bored, have sex with other people, and wind up stuck in the middle of that dark night from the second disc of The River."[29]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Bruce Springsteen.

Side 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
Side two
7."Tunnel of Love"5:12
8."Two Faces"3:03
9."Brilliant Disguise"4:17
10."One Step Up"4:22
11."When You're Alone"3:24
12."Valentine's Day"5:10
Total length:46:25

Unreleased outtakesEdit

While more than 80 songs were said to have been recorded for Springsteen's previous album, only 19 are known to have been recorded for Tunnel of Love, with 12 making the album's final cut. "Lucky Man" and "Two For the Road" were released as B-sides, and later on the Tracks along with other outtakes such as "The Honeymooners," "The Wish" and "When You Need Me." "Part Man, Part Monkey" was also recorded during these sessions and played live on the Tunnel of Love Express Tour. Although that version remains unreleased, it would be re-recorded during future album sessions and eventually released. "Walking Through Midnight" is the only other unreleased song which was co-written by Southside Johnny who recorded the song for his own album, 1988's Slow Dance.

  • "Part Man, Part Monkey"
  • "Walking Through Midnight"





Certifications and salesEdit

Certifications and sales for Tunnel of Love
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[49] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[50] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[51] Gold 40,716[51]
France (SNEP)[52] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[53] Gold 250,000^
Italy 400,000[54]
Japan 128,400[36]
Netherlands (NVPI)[55] 2× Platinum 200,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[56] Platinum 15,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[57] Platinum 100,000[57]
Portugal (AFP)[58] Gold 20,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[59] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Sweden (GLF)[60] Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[61] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[62] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[63] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


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External linksEdit