This was inspired by the amusement rides on the boardwalk of Asbury Park, New Jersey, where Springsteen hung out and gigged growing up. He used the "Tunnel Of Love" ride as a metaphor for the ups and downs of a relationship. He was having problems with his first marriage at the time, and would later divorce Julianne Phillips.
This is the title track to an album Springsteen recorded mostly by himself in his home studio in Rumson, New Jersey. One of the last songs recorded for Tunnel Of Love, Springsteen liked the title enough to use it as the name of the album.
The amusement park that helped inspire this is over 100 years old. It is in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.
The song features a guitar solo by Nils Lofgren. The musician was passing through New Jersey when he called Springsteen to say hi and check in. Springsteen told his pal he had a track underway and suggested he came by and take a poke at it. Lofgren told Songfacts the story of his contribution to the tune:
"I was on the road, in and out of Jersey. Bruce called and said he was working on a solo record, and he said he had this title track. He'd been messing with the solo, but he thought I could take a shot at it. So we went to a little barn on his guest house where he had a makeshift studio. I was shocked at the song: It was so different sounding and radical and beautiful, and just out of the box - in my eyes - from what Bruce normally did. So I started playing solos. I threw a couple of foot pedals on the ground, since he said on the phone he was looking for something a little unusual.
I asked him what key we were in and he said C, so I just started picking out some hammered notes - something I usually don't do in my style - to take what I do and put a little different slant on it, because the song is a little out of the normal box. We just kept plugging in foot pedals and choruses and flangers and messing around with the sound, and we got a couple of different takes that felt great under his instruction. Then I went to writing one of my one-note-with-a-rhythm, bouncing harmonic thing under the singing, and came up with a solo that he wanted to use, which I was honored by and still love playing that live."
Eric from So Cal, CaI find myself constantly going back to this song. Takes me back in time. I completely agree with yduR of Knoxville. Merry Clayton on Gimme Shelter and Patty Scialfa on this song are on par with each other!! Simply fantastic.
Jeff from Beverly Hills, MaMy favorite Bruce Springsteen song. Like others, I found meaning in the line that you've got learn to live with what you can't rise above.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOur 37 year old son was killed in 2007, a line from Tunnel of Love helped us greatly dealing with this ordeal. That line was 'you've got to learn to live with what you can't rise above' Thanks Bruce!!!
Scott from Detroit, MiTraveling with a co-worker from Fresno to Bakersfield...I ask him what he would like to listen to. He said he only liked country music...so I put in "Tunnel Of Love" and when it was done he said it was the best country album he'd ever heard.
Don from Indianapolis, InI could easily call "Tunnel of Love" my favorite, and best performed Springsteen song. His vocals, along with those of Sciafla's are both powerful...and convincing about the "rollercoaster" emotion of love.
Gene from San Diego, CaAll so true. A song about the ups and downs of a relationship. The use of the theme park ride as a metaphor is nothing short of incredible.
Brian from Chalfont, PaThis song is the greatest pop song to describe the craziness of "LOVE".
Ydur from Knoxville, TnPatty Sciafla's backing vocals are perhaps the best backing vocal track in rock history, especially considering the relationship between Bruce, Patti, and Julie Ann at the time. The only other real contender in this catagory is Merry Clayton on the Stones "Gimmie Shelter".
Richard from Newport, Isle Of Wight, EnglandAlthough a nice song, the idea could be seen as a rip-off of Dire Straits' earlier song of the same name, which, as far as I can make out, uses a similar metaphorical meaning for the fairground ride.
Wes from Springfield, VaOne of the better metaphorical songs in pop, I think. Also, the video does a good job of reinforcing the lyrics, as I recall. When it came out I sort of considered that it represented the maturation of 1980's songwriting.
Paul from Detroit, MiThe rollercoaster sound effects at the end of Tunnel of Love are from The Cowsills song "The Rain, The Park & Other Things". The Cowsills were a 60's family group and the inspiration for The Partridge Family.