Jon: I recognize that this is a minority opinion, considering the iconic stature of so much of Bruce Springsteen’s work, but “Tunnel of Love” is my favorite of all his songs. To me, it represents the moment he reached full maturity as a songwriter — and as a man. Has there ever been a rock song that dealt with romance in all its facets — attraction, jealousy, comfort, suspicion, passion, confusion — yet also made the pop Top 10?
Jeff: You can’t be serious, Jon. First of all, “full maturity” and “bolo tie” are antonyms, and Springsteen is clearly wearing one on the cover of this album. Second, there’s a difference between growing up and putting people to sleep. Why didn’t anyone in Springsteen’s immediate circle take steps to stop him from moving to California? Anything from a choke hold to having him committed would have worked, and we wouldn’t have had to suffer through his West Coast MOR musings. Oh, woe is me! I’m rich and I’m fucking Julianne Phillips! Boo hoo!
Still, knowing it’s your favorite Springsteen song explains a lot, Jon. It’s what your mom always asks me to play before she does the basket trick.Â
Jon: Wow, a “your mother” joke on the first response. It’s no wonder you were the debate champion three years running at Douchebag U. In your rantings about California — hey, moving to L.A. did wonders for John Lennon, Sharon Tate and innumerable others — you fail to recognize that L.A. obviously didn’t get to Bruce (apart from some dicey neckwear choices). He responded to his tabloid-friendly romance with Julianne not by candy-coating it or ignoring it completely, but by laying his conflicted heart on the table. We already knew that Bruce could spin a compelling yarn, that he could reflect the American experience and rouse the rabble. Now, for really the first time, he was showing us who he really is — doing nothing less than opening a window into his soul.
Jeff: Now this is more like it. None of Springsteen’s middle-aged chest-beating — just an honest, subtly crafted story about two people finding a few minutes of comfort in a world full of bullshit. Rodgers & Hammerstein meets pub rock — who would have guessed it’d work this well? The song actually invites Springsteen comparisons on a number of levels — that’s Roy Bittan on the piano, and the way the rhythm rides up halfway through bears more than a passing resemblance to early Boss. But where Bruce wouldn’t have been able to stop until he was hollering at the top of his lungs and the E Street Band had spent three months tracking overdubs, Mark Knopfler is the model of patient restraint, trusting the audience to follow along and fill in its own blanks. And then, of course, there’s the sublime guitar solo at the end. Perfection.
Jon: Jeff, you ignorant slut. “Knopfler is the model of patient restraint…” No, Iâ€™m the model of patient restraint for sitting through this epic snoozefest without sledgehammering my iPod. Eight minutes, 11 seconds of guitar licks I liked better when they were called “Sultans of Swing,” and meandering lyrics (at least Bruce knows how to build drama) about some girl Knopfler takes on a ride and then allows to walk away? What a pussy! Bruce would have waited ’til the park closed, put that girl on the swing ride, and…by the way, my mom says she wanted you to play Bruce, but you put this song on instead. She also says you were the worst she ever had — for the entire 11 seconds it lasted. Then she had to listen to this fuckin’ Dire Straits song for eight more minutes.
“Rodgers & Hammerstein meets pub rock”…what a crock! That description might fit Elvis Costello — who, by the way, would have kicked the shit out of Knopfler in a bar fight, married the girl from the carnival, and then written a classic song about it (a song that would have lasted approximately 1:45, not 8:11).
Jeff: Considering that the song’s intro was lifted from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel Waltz,” I’m having a hard time seeing how “Rodgers & Hammerstein meets pub rock” is a “crock” — I think you have your ignorant sluts confused, Jon. And speaking of ignorant sluts, I thought 11 seconds was pretty good, considering your mother’s skill with the aforementioned basket trick. If she said I was the worst she ever had, it was probably only because she was pissed that I always balked at giving her the _________ she was always asking for. Some strange stuff going on there, Jon. It’s no wonder you turned out the way you did.
Jon: Weâ€™re supposed to be done, but I just made the mistake of Googling “_________” to find out what it is. You have serious issues, dude. Do you kiss your wife and daughters with that mouth?
Jeff: No, I respect them too much. I kissed your mom with it, though.
Join us again in two weeks when Dave Steed and Will Harris take on the topic of “POISON.” Not the band. Or any particular toxic chemical. We’re talking about girls here. Girls that are like poison.