Into The Tunnel of Love

Whatever we do this Tuesday all of us involved with the programme are dismayed and heart broken at the events in Las Vegas on Sunday night. Country Music at its best is life affirming, joyful and unifying. It defies belief that something so evil could visit men, women and children out enjoying a concert. To the bereaved, the injured and to all those caught up in this tragedy we send our love and prayers.

With love from all at BBC Radio Scotland’s Another Country.

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I remember hearing Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love for the first time. It would have been on cassette and it would have been on the road. What that album meant to be then would take a longer essay – maybe a book – but that is for another time. What I remember about the album is pretty well everything. To say I became obsessed is an understatement of gargantuan proportions and by the time I met the man who mixed the record, Mr Bob Clearmountain, a few months later the only questions I wanted to ask him were about that album.

Bob’s memorable quote was one that stuck with me for a long time after. Referring to Springsteen’s then wife, Julianne Phillips, Bob apparently asked The Boss, ‘Has Julie heard these songs?’

It’s not difficult to see why the question got asked. As the tracks went past and Bob balanced the self produced multi tracks one thing was certain about the theme of the record. The character or characters in these songs were unhappily out of love. Whether it’s the man questioning his own identity in ‘Brilliant Disguise’ or the couple entering that dark fairground ride itself or the lover who tells his partner that they take ‘One step up and two steps back’ these are relationships getting into deep water without any sight of shore.

Well, I can feel the soft silk of your blouse
And them soft thrills in our little fun house
Then the lights go out and it’s just the three of us, yeah
You, me and all that stuff we’re so scared of

Nevertheless for reasons that could fill that book, the record remains my favourite record. In the spring after the record came out I saw Bruce for the first time. I’d not been a huge fan of Born In The USA and his previous visit to the UK demanded a herculean effort to get a ticket at The Edinburgh Playhouse. I had neither the time nor the money to make that. On this occasion however I had engineered events differently. I was being sent to New York City on recording business and I managed to go the week Bruce was to play a run of shows at Madison Square Gardens. I went twice.

Darker than you might have expected and lightened only by the chemistry between Bruce and his new wife to be, Patty Scialfa, the shows were compulsive viewing to this young man. Jet lagged and slightly weary I took in every beat of the 3 hour show. The Fat man on the ticket booth, the rap with Clarence, the cover of John Lee Hooker’s ‘Boom Boom’ and the thrill of hearing 10th Avenue Freeze Out in exactly the right place at the right time.

This Tuesday we’ll celebrate 30 years since Tunnel of Love ‘dropped’  and talk to our own man in Nashville, Bill Demain, about why, for many country artists, Bruce is the man keeping the country flame burning.

It’s all on this week’s Another Country. Join me from five past nine this Tuesday evening from five past nine.

 

 

 

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