Friday, September 13, 2019

RIP Eddie Money

I was never exactly an Eddie Money fan. I was a suburban white boy growing up in the northeast in the late 70s and early 80s, so of course I knew and liked a handful of his songs; that's just how it was. But to call myself a fan wouldn't just be a stretch, it'd be inaccurate.

Still, it amused me when he scored an MTV hit in the early days. This not terribly telegenic and definitely not smooth and polished rocker, nothing like Michael Jackson or Duran Duran, was on nearly as often, thanks to his "Shakin'" video. And if I didn't especially want to watch it, much less listen to it, well, it still made me smile.

But I've always thought he did have one true shining moment of real rock and roll greatness. His breakthrough hit "Two Tickets to Paradise" is good. It's not great but it's good, maybe even very good. The drums, by the fabulous Gary Mallaber, are fantastic, the percussion's great, and the guitar solo is ever so sweet. But the lyrics to the verses are jejune and the chorus simplistic.

But the music during the verses is great. And if the music during the chorus is just okay, well, that all gets washed away during the B-section, the "waiting so long" part, which seems as simplistic as the chorus and yet somehow taps into something incredibly primal and eternal, thanks to the combination of the sentiment, the melody and the instrumental backing, along with Money's vocal delivery, which sells the underlying emotion perfectly. If I were to ever capture a moment that well, I'd be a very happy artist indeed.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

1999

I love Bruce Springsteen. Anyone who is unfortunate to know me in real life knows this about me. Anyone who's spent any time at all on this site also likely picked up on it. (Although maybe they've been lucky enough to only real co-blogger pal Dan's posts on the same topic.) My reasons for this love are obvious: he's one of the greatest writers and performers in the history of rock and roll, with a range that's massively overlooked by those who only know him casually.

He's also overrated as a bandleader.

That's right. I said it. And I stand by it.

And I can defend my argument very easily—by simply posting this recently released clip of a Prince concert from back in 1982, when The Purple One was all of 24 years old.


Look. Bruce Springsteen was and is a phenomenal performer and bandleader. But this guy...this was simply another level. He watched Elvis and James Brown and Jimi Hendrix and Kiss and, yes, Bruce Springsteen and he mixed them up and then he did it all better.  He's not only a better singer and guitarist and, yes, dancer than Springsteen, that band is tighter than the E Street Band could ever hope to be.

Which isn't to say I like Prince better, 'cuz I don't. I love much of his music and like even more. But he rarely hits the way Springsteen does. But you have to give credit where it's due, and by 1982 this lil dude was due pretty much all the credit there was, and he only got better from there.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Give Blood

The Crickets. The Beatles. Creedence Clearwater Revival. Led Zeppelin. The Ramones. P-Funk. The Smiths. R.E.M. Nirvana. Radiohead. There have been an awful lot of great bands.

This is not one of them. But only because it wasn't a real band—it was a solo artist with as good a backing band as has ever existed. If had been a real band? The core of Pete Townshend on vocals and rhythm guitar, Dave Gilmour on lead, Pino Palladino on bass and Simon Phillips on drums...well, the mind reels at what they could have created.


Incidentally, in case you were wondering, yes, this is maybe the most perfect drum performance ever, when it comes to the combination of staggering technique, brilliant inventiveness, off-the-chart energy and yet remarkable taste and restraint, including (at 3:44) the single greatest use of the double bass drums ever.

Terrible editing, of course. Hey, it was the 80s.

[ETA: ...huh. Turns out I wrote about this four years ago, and said pretty much the same thing, although I used a different version of what I think is the exact same performance.]

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Emmylou

I don't know, exactly, what determines if a song works to its full desired effect. It's a highly subjective thing, right? One person gets choked up hearing Bruce Springsteen's "Backstreets," another can be moved to outward emotion by Kansas' "Dust in the Wind." Two wildly divergent forms of music, but each capable of triggering something in the individual listener.

So I don't know the exact formula; it's likely that no one does. But I will say this. When two young sisters write a song honoring a musical legend, and then perform that song in front of that musical legend, and that musical legend is moved to tears by that performance? Yeah, I think that is a good definition of success. Of a song that has reached its desired effect.

Case in point. Here is what I am talking about.


I'll be honest, I had never heard of this sister duo, called First Aid Kit and born, like them, in Sweden. Not until it was suggested I watch this video. But Lord am I glad I checked this out. The Soderberg sisters—Johanna is the older one, she's on the left singing harmony and taking lead on the bridge, and her younger sister Klara is on the right, playing guitar and singing lead—are each in their early 20s during this (I think) 2015 performance, and they are admittedly singing in front of one of their idols. Yet they show the poise of hard-boiled musical veterans, flawlessly delivering a song that is just unceasingly tender and lovely.

Much like the Everly Brothers of a different era, or the Carter family or the Jacksons or even the Osmonds, there is something about siblings singing together that, when done right, reaches an ethereal level that is nearly impossible to top. It's organic, embedded in marrow and plasma and intertwined in the DNA, and Johanna and Klara just put it on full display here. Johanna introduces the very meaning of the song with crystal perfection, and offers a bit of meta commentary on First Aid Kit while she does it, "We were so inspired (by the music of Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons) that we wrote this song, which is about the joy and the magic of singing with someone you love."

Beautiful.

As for the magnificent Emmylou? Well, her reaction pretty much says it all. From the warm double kiss she blows to them at the outset, to the tiny wistful smile we see on her face as she focuses so intently on the song, to the tears she wipes from her eyes when the song inevitably overtakes her, that reaction is just priceless.

Oh, and the guy sitting next to her seems to appreciate it too. And he's only the freaking King of Sweden. But no pressure, ladies.

I'll be your Emmylou 
And I'll be your June 
You'll be my Gram 
And Johnny too
And I'm not asking that much of you
Just sing, little darling, sing with me

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Gentle on My Mind

I'm not sure I recall a time when I didn't love Glen Campbell's music: "Rhinestone Cowboy" was probably the first song of his I really knew, or maybe "By the Time I Get to Phoenix"? Later, of course, "Galveston" and, most of all, "Wichita Lineman" became favorites. And as a music-obsessed teenager, I knew that he was a hotshot session guitarist before he became a country-pop superstar. But I never actually heard any of his playing. Thanks to YouTube, that sort of research became easier by a magnitude of precisely 28949. And yet, for quite a while, video evidence of Campbell's chops were in short supply. Fortunately, not anymore.

This might not have seemed like an obvious example at first glance: it's Campbell's lovely take on the John Hartford classic, later covered by Elvis during his late 60s resurgence. Except he skips the second verse in order to rip off a solo in its place. And what a solo! How good is it? Well, just look at the legends sitting around, laughing at how ridiculously good it is, and under that kind of pressure: Willie Nelson, Roy Clark, Chet damn Atkins and is that Waylon Jennings shown briefly?


Campbell gives a laughing nod to the greatness assembled around him at the end...and yet his face as he's playing seems to indicate he knows he's got this puppy in the bag, as indeed he damn well does. Check out Clark studying Campbell's playing: when a player of his greatness pays that close attention, you know something serious is happening. As indeed it damn well was. The way Willie's head shoots up when Glen says he's about to play a solo? Willie doesn't react that quickly to something unless it's damn worthy.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Left of the Dial

I just saw this clip today for the first time and was gobsmacked...all over again.



Some wag once described "Left of the Dial" thusly:
I just sat there, listening to this song I’ve heard a hundred times, thinking once more, this is rock and roll. Everything about it just screams This Is Rock and Roll and All That Is Good About It. If an alien landed and wanted to know what rock and roll is, I do believe this is the song I’d play.
15 years after I wrote that I'm watching this clip and thinking, yeah—I don't often get things that right, but on this one, I surely did.

Oh, and then let's just toss in "Alex Chilton," a serious contender for Greatest Power Pop Song Ever, as a digestif because we're the damn Replacements and that's the kind of thing we can do so why the hell not.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Graduation Day 1990 (Here Comes The Sun)


It was 29 years ago today that I “woke up” (not that I’d slept much at all) around 5 am after what would be my last college all-nighter. It was a pretty wild party held in my soon-to-be ex-college apartment, and the reason for it was fairly obvious—today (Sunday, May 20, 1990) was Graduation Day at the University of Connecticut.

Sleep just wasn’t happening for me; for the dozen or so bodies strewn around the apartment it seemed to come fine and easy, but my body wasn’t having any of it. So fully dressed, I grabbed my car keys and quietly headed out.

It was such a surreal feeling to wander outside into the light morning rain, unsure of where to go for the next few hours, knowing that so much of my life had led to this day and this brand new chapter was about to commence.

So I hopped into my ’79 Oldsmobile and just drove, out through those small, bucolic rural towns that dot eastern Connecticut, hoping to maybe outrun the rain and find a sunrise on this last day of my college life. I eventually drove to the top of a hill on an empty road in one of those little towns and, after driving for a half-hour or so, pulled over and got out of my car. I was heading east and I looked out and there it was—just a faint hint of the sun coming up.

I sat on the hood of my car and watched the faint pink and orange sky, thinking about what came next and admitting to myself I didn’t have a damn clue. I sat there for 10-15 minutes, lost in the stillness of it all, alone and feeling so very far away not only from home, but from everything and everyone I knew.

I thought about what came next, both literally and figuratively. I had a cap and gown to iron, I had friends to meet for breakfast one last time, I had parents to meet and other friends to gather with as we made our way to venerable old Memorial Stadium for the ceremony. I had hours ahead of me waiting for my name to be called with thousands of other graduates. I had lunch with the family and then the slog of moving out of my apartment over the next day or two and heading back home to live, at least for a little while.

And beyond that, I had a career to think about. I had an interview at a newspaper for a free-lance reporting position two days later, and thus would begin what I hoped would be a successful career in journalism. It was all in front of me, just as that tiny glint of sunrise was.

The sheer silence of that moment ended abruptly when a raindrop hit the hood of my car, then another and then within seconds a steady rain was falling and the sunrise up ahead was fading. It was time to go. I hopped back in the driver’s seat, turned around and drove off.

Soon I would be surrounded by people I loved and whose company I enjoyed, so this alone time was welcome. Still, I’d had enough of the quiet and had such little sleep I needed something to keep my brain occupied and my eyes open, so I turned on the car stereo to the rock-n-roll station it was already tuned to.

Amazingly, this song came on. One of my favorite songs delivered by perhaps my all-time favorite band. I nodded along to the music and I headed back, back through that long, grey rain, back to campus, back to reality, away from the sunrise and straight into what—beyond this long-awaited day—would be a great unknown of a future.



Thursday, April 25, 2019

Cat's in the Cradle

According to the redoubtable Cover Me, Harry Chapin was distressed with the original recording of "Cats in the Cradle," feeling it was far too fast. It's a funny story in hindsight, given how popular it became, and how lasting an impact the song has had.

But then you listen to his daughter's version and it seems ol' Harry might have been onto something.


The younger Chapin had serious musical training, and it shows, as she toys with the melody here and there but never strays far from the oh so well known basis. And the recording is emotionally devastating: the original had more than enough pathos, but it's impossible not to listen and think about the fact that she's singing this song about a distant father which was written by her own father who died when she was just 10.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Out of Time

In which the Rolling Stones simultaneously write the great (or at least a great) lost girl group song from the 60s and one of the greatest Darkness on the Edge of Town outtakes Bruce Springsteen never wrote or recorded.


Am I wrong? Of course I'm not. That would have fit beautifully on The Promise. The chorus obviously—the repeated word (in this case "baby") are practically as much a Springsteen hallmark as cars and girls—and, of course, it's a basic I-V-IV construction, with an added vi in the chorus, the exact kind of structure Springsteen consciously stripped down to on Darkness and to which he's largely stuck ever since.

And of course it's catchy as all hell and unusually poppy, both for the 1966 Stones and 1978 Springsteen, so of course he would have left in the vault. After all, if he'd written something like this at the time and actually released it, he might have had a hit single, and that just wouldn't do.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well this is just magical.



And now I am amazed I never ever heard this before today. This version, that is.

It's very, very difficult to imagine two voices going more perfectly together. When Cass comes in for the first harmony, that may be what it sounds like to hear music for the first time. No, I do not overstate.

Magical.

(And how cool to see they were doing their own version of Rock the Vote back there in those Nixon days of 1972?)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Outta My Head / Separate Ways

How, in this post-post-postmodern world do you make a good video for your fine song? With a shot for shot remake of the worst video ever, of course.


I have very mixed feelings about this remix culture society we find ourselves in, where memes are so prevalent and truly great works of art are often first introduced to and best known by younger viewers/readers/listeners by the snide (and often very funny) jokes made out of them and at their expense. On the one hand, I love the way the internet has granted so many artists the tools and audiences to enable them to create in a way they likely never would have a few decades earlier. On the other hand, I don't think it comes without a cost.

But this? This is just gold. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Don't Do Me Like That

Oh J Mascis. Is there any song you cannot make your own, no matter how strongly identified the original is with its creator?



It is a well-known truism that cover albums tend to be a sign of artistic stagnation. There are exceptions, of course, but not many.

I don't care: I'd be delighted with a new cover album every month, just J running down whatever song catches his fancy, his laconic drawl accompanied by his lacerating guitar. Do me like that, J. Do me just like that.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Goodbye To You

We've done a lot of writing on this blog about the 1980s, that whirring blur of pastel, excess and rationalization. We talked a lot about the good, not too much about the bad and quite a bit about the cheesy. And you know what? Just as the 1970s weren't all about shag carpeting, bell bottoms, leisure suits and whatever the hell this is, the 1980s were so much more than just a sockless Don Johnson or a feckless Oliver North. Or cocaine.

For God's sake both decades had some music...tons of music, really...that ranks as some of the greatest ever made. The 70s has all of those legendary Stevie Wonder records, the very best of the Who and maybe even the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen's two greatest records, Bob Dylan's second greatest, plus this. And this. And this!!!

Meanwhile, the 80s has not just Prince and Michael Jackson (and BTW also...PRINCE AND MICHAEL JACKSON!!!), but how about Madonna? And U2 and R.E.M? And the Replacements and the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. and Living Colour and, come to think about it, the very very best of the Police? Yeah, the 1980s had it going on with its musics.

Which brings me to this one-hit...er...I guess two-hit wonder that most anyone who existed as a sentient human being over the age of 12 in 1983 became pretty familiar with. This song. The video of which, yes, has all that goofy and grandiose 1980s plastic mayhem and kitsch for which so many of us still remember the decade:



There's so much to love here. Let's start with the song. This is a terrific song that Scandal and Patty Smyth have created. Scott and I have spent much time in this space praising the glory of the well-executed pop song, and all of those elements that go into good pop. The catchiness, first and foremost. The hooks that make you say, "Yes!" Striking just the right balance of being not too heavy yet memorable and lasting enough to remain fresh after multiple listenings. I think those are the key ingredients, right? Catchiness, the right hooks and staying power? Isn't that what separated something like this from something like (ugh!) this?

Anyway, "Goodbye To You" has that pop essence, and it has the chops to leave behind a pop song that while it might sound a little dated 37 years later, it still makes a great listen. That classic 4/4 drum/bass beat that opens it (not unlike plenty of other terrific pop tunes, like "We Got The Beat" or "Dancing in the Dark.") A melody that never waivers and delivers both memorable verses and then one whallop of a chorus. And then, when we're not even expecting it, we get another indelible hook on the bridge ("And my heart...and my heart...and my heart...and my heart can't stand the strain.") "Goodbye To You" never dives too deep, but it also never lets up from start to finish. And I love that.

And then there is Patty Smyth, who kinda bounces into the frame a few seconds in (and seriously, I love how it takes her 15 seconds to show up. For whatever reason) and then just takes ahold of your collar and really doesn't let go. Her voice is not exactly classic female pop. Very little vibrato and no tricks at all, rather she has a touch of gravel and growl as she belts it out with all she's got. She lends just the right amount of emotion and fire where she needs to (the way she spits out the word "YOU!" on each chorus, the sweet, vulnerable retreat she makes at the start of the bridge). But her voice is one of control and steadiness, and she lends an edge to an otherwise very simple (if listenable and engaging) beat.

And in the video, I think it's pretty safe to say you literally can't take your eyes off of her. While her bandmates are decked out in menswear that seems to have been purchased from a catalog called, Man, Didn't the 80s Rock?, Patty is in her own world here. She is a bright red blur, bopping her little Long Island heart out in her red dress and heels, hardly ever cracking a smile but throwing us a gaze that goes right through the camera. The video is at times hilarious, with its sudden stop-action freezes in all sorts of weird times, but again, Patty doesn't care. She trades diva for dervish, and exists to sing the song with all she's got, and that's just what she does, dammit. She's not quite the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl. She's more the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl's older sister who you can't take your eyes off of and you don't dare screw with her. Bless her for that.

Just one little morsel of what the 1980s offered us. But such a good one. It really is.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Shallow

I'm not a big Oscar guy. Haven't been for awhile.

I mean, I love movies. Even though I don't see nearly enough of them these days. I have a wheelhouse of knowledge that is far exceeded by others but still puts me in the game when discussions arise on, say, movies that came out between 1960 and 2005 or so. I love great films, I love guilty pleasure films, I love those comedies that are still funny after 15 viewings, I love thrillers that sometimes keep you guessing and sometimes don't, I even love good horror films. And of course, I love this!

And I love music. I mean hell, despite my noticeable absence from this space in recent weeks...okay, in recent months...Scott and I created this little blog to showcase our love of great musics, good musics, so-so musics, silly musics and even, sometimes, stuff we can't stand.

But the Academy Awards show itself, despite often spotlighting not only the best in film but also some damn fine and lasting music too, just doesn't tend to do it for me. I guess awards shows in general don't. Maybe it's the self-congratulatory nature of it all. Maybe it's that for way too long it's been, um, a little less than diverse? Or maybe it's just that the show is so, so long.

So I tend not to watch. But last night, just as I finished watching a DVR'd program, I flipped by to see where in the show the Oscars were. And I got there just in time, literally, to see this:



And I really do have to say, it was one of those moments that left me breathless. And so damn grateful that I saw it happen in real time.

For starters, this is a great freaking song. Emotionally churning and bleeding with the pathos and grandeur that all pop songs long to have yet so few are able to obtain. The muted beginning. Cooper's ragged but perfectly tuned voice. Gaga's vibrato-free performance that runs from soft and almost lilting to overpoweringly glorious. The wordless climax that so flawlessly brings us to one last, gorgeous chorus before a shockingly quick ending. "Shallow" has it all in just around three minutes. That is great pop.

Then there is the performance. Look how humble and quiet Cooper seems as he starts. Check out the stare he gives to Gaga, and the one she returns to him. Unbreakable. When she takes to the piano and begins to devour the song like a praying mantis (and I mean that in a very, very good way), the stage and the world belong to her. But when we next see Cooper again he has this unworldly smile on his face, like he can't believe his good fortune to be watching what he is watching, let alone be a part of this. And when he makes his way over to the piano to sit with her for the finale, watch the look they give each other after a mike-share that is so close they almost become the same person. They are smiling and draw and worn and content, and that final look shows us how much this moment just meant to them.

And then there is the camera work. So many times the direction of these shows is overblown and over-complicated and you just want to smack the director and yell, "Would you please just relax?!"

But not here. From the moment the guitar starts and the camera moves from backstage to  front, it is all one single tracking shot for the next four minutes or so. Think about that. It's all one shot.

The choice to show Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga rising from their front row seats and walking hand in hand to the stage, the audience in full view behind them, is such a beautiful one that it's hard to get my arms fully around it. And just the idea of doing it all with one single camera, uninterrupted, moving tastefully back and forth between two of the biggest stars and talents in the world? I don't know how someone thought to do this or, quite frankly, how it was pulled off with such precision that it seemed effortless. But it was spectacular.

So I'm still not really an "Oscars" guy. But you give me more moments like this? We'll talk.

Friday, February 15, 2019

One Man's Journey Through the Peaks and Valleys of Human Relationship: My Theory on Tunnel of Love

I've made so secret, ever, of my love for Bruce Springsteen's 8th album, 1987's Tunnel of Love.

Many times on this blog, like here and here, I have stated my belief (and Scott largely has stated he agrees with me) that the album is a true masterwork, the most challenging record of his career after Born to Run, (BtR being the desperate act of a man in danger of being dropped by his label). But Tunnel of Love was an almost equally difficult in that it unenviably followed the album that made him a global superstar, Born in the U.S.A. And many wondered what he would ever be able to do to follow it up, let alone top it. But with Tunnel of Love, Bruce Springsteen amazingly did both.

The album is a letter-perfect encapsulation of what it means to be part of an adult relationship (or relationships, if you will), and as my brilliant co-blogger put it, "It was an album written by an adult for adults." The wistful romanticism of the first few albums, the defiant insouciance of the late 1970s, even the bitter political scars of the early 80s, they were all gone now. And what was left was a bare, plaintive examination of the darkest chambers of the hearts and the minds of men and women who were all grown up, yet filled with the traps and perils that came with it. Very few rock-n-roll albums in history have given us a picture of the adult coming to terms with being an adult. Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks did it in 1975. So did Tunnel of Love a dozen years later. Bravo.

And now, after the umpteenth listening I've given to it in the past couple of years, I have a theory. A new theory, if you will, on why Tunnel of Love is the album it is. So please. Indulge.

Here are the 12 songs.

1. Ain't Got You
2. Tougher Than the Rest
3. All That Heaven Will Allow
4. Spare Parts
5. Cautious Man
6. Walk Like a Man
7. Tunnel of Love
8. Two Faces
9. Brilliant Disguise
10. One Step Up
11. When You're Alone
12. Valentine's Day

OK. So we have 12 songs that all have a very similar theme running through them. All are about love, in some form or another. Unrequited love, obsessive love, joyful love, fractured love, lost love.  That is the contextual thread that runs throughout Tunnel of Love, and it's fairly obvious, right? I mean, the L-O-V-E word is right there in the title.

But recently, I saw more, and I heard more. I heard each of these songs as 12 chapters in the same book, and written/recorded in exact order. So in effect Tunnel of Love becomes one person's story, from the opening Bo Diddley-strain of "Ain't Got You" to the weary, winsome waltz of "Valentine's Day." Bruce has effectively written a book here, tracing one person's rather dark journey through the beginning, middle and end of a relationship.

Does that sound too far-fetched?

Let's examine.  Here's how I hear the story play out.

At the center we have a narrator who wants, needs to love and be loved. The narrator is a successful man, maybe absurdly successful, but he is missing something he never had. A true love. And he wants it. This is where our story begins.

Our narrator has everything he could ever want,  but is sad and alone, and therefore his life feels empty (“Ain’t Got You”).

But I'm still the biggest fool, honey, any man ever knew,
'Cause the only thing I ain't go? Baby, I ain't got you.

But then, just as he had hoped,  he falls head over heels in love with a woman, and even though he barely knows her, it feels like what he's always wanted. And he's ready to face all of love's challenges with her (“Tougher Than the Rest”).

Well the road is dark, but it's a thin thin line,
And I want you to know I'll walk it for you anytime.
Maybe your other boyfriends couldn't pass the test,
But if you're rough and ready for love, honey I'm tougher than the rest.

After this, life is sweet when this new love blooms, and (although this is not written, but certainly implied) the plans for marriage arise (“All That Heaven Will Allow”).

Rain, sun and dark skies, now they don't mean a thing,
If you got a girl who loves you and wants to wear your ring.

Not long before he’s to be married, the narrator begins to have traumatic dreams, rooted in this seemingly irreversible step he is about to take. One of these dreams is of a man who runs off and leaves his pregnant bride-to-be at the altar, unable to bear the responsibility of marriage and parenthood ("Spare Parts").

Now Janie walked that baby 'cross the floor night after night,
But she was a young girl and she missed the party lights.
Meanwhile in south Texas in a dirty oil patch,
Bobby heard about his son being born and swore he wasn't ever going back.

The other dream is about a troubled man who stays with his wife, despite so many demons that haunt him, difficulties and all (“Cautious Man”).

Billy was an honest man who wanted to do what was right.
He worked hard to fill their lives with happy days and loving nights.
Alone on his knees in the darkness for steadiness he's pray,
For he know in a restless heart the seed of betrayal lay.

The dreams pass and his wedding day arrives. He is proud and terrified; proud to be getting married but terrified of what's to come. ("Walk Like a Man").

Would they ever look so happy again, the handsome groom and his bride,
As they stepped into that long, black limousine for their mystery ride?

As the marriage begins both the narrator and his wife learn that with the joys come the hardships, and they both realize how hard this can be (“Tunnel of Love”).

When the lights go out it's just the three of us,
You, me and all that stuff we're so scared of.

Before too long apathy and coldness sets in, and distance begins to separate the narrator from his wife (“Two Faces”).

I met a girl and we ran away, I swore I'd make her happy every day.
But how I made her cry.

Apathy and coldness gives way to pure mistrust and resentment as the marriage now takes a darker turn  (“Brilliant Disguise”).

Now you play the loving woman, I play the faithful man,
But just don't look too close into the palm of my hand.
We stood at the altar, the gypsy swore our future was bright,
But come the wee wee hours, maybe, baby the gypsy lied?

And inevitably, this gives way to betrayal and infidelity, as the narrator (and perhaps the wife too) goes exploring for something else ("One Step Up").

There's a girl across the bar, I get the message she's sending.
She ain't looking too married, and me, honey, I'm pretending.

Ultimately the marriage ends and they wish each other well, but it is no doubt final in his eyes. He even rebuffs a chance at reconciliation (“When You’re Alone”).

Now I knew someday your running would be through and you'd think back on me and you,
And your love would be strong.
You'd forget all of the bad and think only of the laughs that we had, and you'd want to come home.
Now it ain't hard feelings or nothing, sugar - that ain't what's got me singing this song.
It's just nobody knows, honey, where love goes, but when it goes, it's gone, gone.

But then one night, Valentine’s Day night, to be exact, he thinks of her again and decides it's time to give it another try. Leaving our story with an uncertain but perhaps hopeful ending (“Valentine’s Day”).

So hold me close and say you're forever mine,
And tell me that you'll be my lonely valentine.

Makes a little sense?

There is, of course, a different ending that could be just as possible, one that tracks much closer to Bruce's life at the time, when he and his wife Julianne Phillips split up thanks to his carrying on with eventual (and still) wife Patti Scialfa. That ending reads, of course, that the narrator doesn't go back to his wife in "Valentine's Day," but instead to the woman he cheated with in "One Step Up." And considering Patti's ominous appearance 2/3 of the way through the latter song...it is indeed possible.

Either way it ends, I still hear the form holding true. One man, one story filled with the hopes, doubts, joy and pain that comes with being an adult in an adult relationship.

All told through one masterpiece of a rock-n-roll album, Tunnel of Love.