Saturday, November 7, 2009

How's the boss treating you these days?

Remember puppy love?

I do. The year was 1987, the musical venue was the Met Center in Bloomington, Minn., and the show was Bruce Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love'' tour. The Boss had it bad, not me. But I forgive him.

How else to explain that album and that tour, which represented a strange time in Springsteen's life and career. The show was, like, weird. Surreal. The props, the music, the whole night just seemed so out of character for Springsteen. No doubt I had been spoiled three years earlier by two smoking back-to-back "Born in the U.S.A.'' concerts at the Omni in Atlanta -- possibly the best live shows I will ever hear and see.

Hard to imagine that "Tunnel of Love'' made it to No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. But there it was, on this date in 1987. A commercial success. Artistic? Not so much. And it took Springsteen time to cleanse himself. After five years without another album he would release "Human Touch'' and "Lucky Town'' in 1992.

People were beginning to wonder. Not diehard fans, whose devotion is admirable but also blinding, but others who wondered what the big fuss had been about. And within that camp are some who claim he has never returned to his "Born in the U.S.A.'' form.

Record sales and rankings really don't mean that much (what do record buyers and critics know anyway?) But it's interesting to view the numbers. If you believe them, you have to say the Boss -- while veering in different musical directions -- eventually got his game back. You might even claim he never lost it.

A chronological list of his albums and their respective Billboard ranking:

1973: Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. #60
1973: The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle #59
1975: Born to Run #3
1978: Darkness on the Edge of Town #5
1980: The River #1
1982: Nebraska #3
1984: Born in the U.S.A. #1
1987: Tunnel of Love #1
1992: Human Touch #2
1992: Lucky Town #3
1995: The Ghost of Tom Joad #11
2002: The Rising #1
2005: Devils & Dust #1
2006: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions #3
2007: Magic #1
2009: Working on a Dream #1

The point of this? Gee, I don't know. Puppy love sucks?


  1. I never got Springsteen. Sorry, diehards.

  2. "Don't be sorry, neither does Dad." *

    * Jake Gittes, Chinatown