Suddenly, a new Bruce Springsteen album is on the way. It's titled Tunnel of Love, and it is not a collection of songs about American angst and alienation, nor is it a-bristle with arena-rock anthems of the sort that kept 1984's Born in the U.S.A. on the charts for more than two years. Instead, the new LP – the ninth release of Springsteen's fourteen-year recording career – is said to be largely about love, a subject in which he's apparently developed a renewed interest since his marriage to model Julianne Phillips. It's not a solo Bruce outing, like his 1982 release Nebraska, but neither is it exactly a standard band opus (members of the E Street Band play on the record, but in shifting configurations). Produced by the usual studio team of Bruce, the engineer Chuck Plotkin and Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau, Tunnel of Love is said by those few people who have heard it to be Springsteen's most sensually direct work to date. At press time, the album's cover art was being rushed into production to enable CBS Records to ship the LP to stores this fall – in plenty of time for the Christmas gift-giving season. (Last year's Springsteen blockbuster – the five-disc, boxed-set retrospective Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live/1975-85 – is still in oversupply at many shops, and CBS is encouraging retailers to cut the set's price to around $14.95 for the upcoming holidays.)
In recording the tracks for Tunnel of Love, Springsteen drew on the talents of such disparate musicians as the onetime Seatrain violinist Richard Greene, harmonica player Jimmie Wood and Jay Dee Maness, a Nashville studio veteran who currently holds down the steel-guitar slot in Chris Hillman's Desert Rose Band. Despite Springsteen's use of such offbeat instrumentation, Tunnel of Love, by all accounts, is not a "country" album. (In fact, both Maness – who made the mistake of gabbing to the press about the sessions – and Greene are absent from the record's final mix.)
Whatever lyrical or stylistic surprises the new record may hold in store, it promises to be, at heart, more of the same thing that Springsteen has always delivered: call it Bruce music. And that, for most folks, will be more important, and certainly more interesting, than all the media hoopla that will inevitably erupt around it.
This story appears in the September 24th, 1987 issue of Rolling Stone.