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'Tunnel' Vision

October 11, 1987

Robert Hilburn's review of Bruce Springsteen's latest, "Tunnel of Love," is almost a parody of the dominant tendency of standard rock "criticism" these days: It dwells almost entirely on lyrics, as if the music in rock music were only incidental ("Springsteen's Darkest Dreams," Oct. 4).

According to Hilburn, Springsteen's music on "Tunnel" is "simple"--though I haven't heard "Tunnel" yet, judging from Springsteen's previous music, it's likely that the adjective will be only too appropriate. For while Springsteen's lyrics have been consistently distinctive and intelligent, his music has been consistently mediocre.

Superior music is wholly reliant on superior melody, and anyone who listens critically to melody knows that Springsteen writes melodies that are rudimentary at best--a stadium rocker like "Glory Days," when looked at even casually, is virtually devoid of real musical substance. Thus, listening to a Springsteen album is typically a rather deadening musical experience.

This is not to deny that there are occasional flashes of quality in Springsteen's music (especially in "Born in the U.S.A.," which contains four or five listenable songs). But a man of his gifts could have done much better.

FERDINAND GASTELUM

Guerrilla Rock Critic at Large

Los Angeles

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