At the height of the mammoth success of "Born in the U.S.A.," Bruce Springsteen made some major changes in his personal life as well - he brought a bigger house and got married to actress Julianne Phillips. Though seemingly happy with his newfound megastardom and supermodel wife, all was not well under the surface. The pressures and responsibilities of Springsteen's personal and artistic lives had taken his toll on him. He was unsure about the direction his life was going in, and developed a great deal of insecurity and even fear. Like all great artists, Springsteen took these emotions and translated them into art. The final result was "Tunnel of Love," Bruce's best and mature work as an artist.
The album chronicles the roller coaster ride that is human relationships. Starting off with the first errant sparks of attraction in the self deprecating "Ain't Got You" to the youthful innocence of "All That Heaven Will Allow" to the thoughtful and sweet "Cautious Man," the first half of the album captures the initial heart over head mentality that is dominant in the initial stages. The title track is where things begin to get a little darker, as the main character of the album begins to ponder the longterm effects of a relationship and realizes that things won't always be as good as they were in the beginning.
"Spare Parts" takes things down a darker road, as a teen romance turns sour when Janey gets pregnant and Bobby slits out of fear. Like "The River" before it, Bruce takes a controversial subject like teen pregnancy and doesn't hold back, tackling all the pressure and painful decisions and emotions that go along with it.
"Brilliant Disguise" is one of the Top 5 Greatest Songs Bruce Springsteen has ever written. A stunning look into his personal frame of mind at the time, it's a chilling reflection of doubt, insecurity and jealousy and all the trouble these often ill founded emotions cause. It ends with one of the greatest lines Bruce has ever written.
Things get back to a lighter, more reflective mood with favorite Bruce song ever, "Walk Like a Man." Written for his parents, a new groom prepares for the next chapter in his life, pondering all the moments beforehand that he thinks back upon to prepare for the often funny, often scary 'mystery ride' he's about to embark on.
"Two Faces" is about the duality of happiness and anger. One minute you're the light of her life, the next moment, you're the most dreaded figure she could ever encounter, and you don't know how to make it work, but you're still gonna try. Danny Federici provides some brilliant, atmospheric keyboard work.
"One Step Up" is a love grown cold. The spark is gone. Life has become routine and often unbearable. Happiness is but a fading memory. Bruce captures loneliness in a manner so vividly it's almost surreal. One of his greatest songs ever.
"When You're Alone" sums up it so eloquently: when you're alone, you're alone. The childhood whimsy present in the beginning has faded. The two have become one once more, facing the cold reality that when you're alone, there's nothing. Only you can pull yourself out of it, no one's there to help you.
"Valentine's Day" brings things full circle. They now realize their responsibilites to each other. They're determined to keep things together, that they will be always be the most important part of each other's lives. A beautiful song to close out a very special album.