I wasn’t really aware of Bruce Springsteen as a career artist when I was 15 years old, the year 1987’s Tunnel of Love came out.
Of course, I was aware of the runaway smash Born in the U.S.A. (1984) from its radio and MTV airplay, but I had no concept of his prior work or his importance to the rock music landscape. And this album missed my radar entirely until years later.
Looking back, I realize Tunnel of Love must have been viewed as a long-awaited follow-up to Born in the U.S.A. and saddled with the burden of those expectations.
Perhaps Springsteen saw that coming, and deliberately delivered a more personal, introspective and musically somber collection. Or maybe his marriage just fell apart at an opportune time.
Whatever the reason, Tunnel of Love was a brilliant departure for Springsteen, and a mature, moving collection of songs about heartbreak and disappointment.
Today’s song, the opener, is stylistically and thematically much different from the rest of the album. A little Trojan horse ushering you into an album full of beautiful sadness and regret.
I got the fortunes of heaven in diamonds and gold
I got all the bonds, baby, that the bank could hold
I got houses ‘cross the country, honey, end to end
And everybody, buddy, wants to be my friend
Well I got all the riches, baby, any man ever knew
But the only thing I ain’t got, honey, I ain’t got you
I got a house full of Rembrandt and priceless art
And all the little girls, they wanna tear me apart
When I walk down the street, people stop and stare
Well, you’d think I might be thrilled, but baby, I don’t care
‘Cause I got more good luck, honey, than old King Farouk
But the only thing I ain’t got, baby, I ain’t got you
I got a big diamond watch sittin’ on my wrist
I try to tempt you, baby, but you just resist
I made a deal with the devil, babe, I won’t deny
Until I got you in my arms, I can’t be satisfied
I got a pound of caviar sitting home on ice
I got a fancy foreign car that rides like paradise
I got a hundred pretty women knockin’ down my door
And folks wanna kiss me I ain’t even seen before
I been around the world and all across the seven seas
Been paid a king’s ransom for doin’ what comes naturally
But I’m still the biggest fool, honey, this world ever knew
‘Cause the only thing I ain’t got, baby, I ain’t got you
You meant 1987, not 1997.
This album was very much on our radar when it came out, and arguably stands as our favorite Springsteen album. While the whole album is wonderful, the standouts remain the title track, “Brilliant Disguise,” and “One Step Up.”