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"Tougher Than the Rest"
Single by Bruce Springsteen
from the album Tunnel of Love
B-side "Roulette"
Released 1988
Format 7" single
Recorded Between January and May 1987 at Thrill Hill East (Springsteen's home studio)
Genre Rock
Length 4:35
Label Columbia Records
Writer(s) Bruce Springsteen
Producer Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Plotkin
Bruce Springsteen singles chronology
"One Step Up"
(1988)
"Tougher Than the Rest"
(1988)
"Spare Parts"
(1988)

"Tougher Than the Rest" is a song by Bruce Springsteen from his 1987 Tunnel of Love album. It was released as a single in some countries, following "Brilliant Disguise" and the title track, but was not released as a single in the United States.[1] Although it was not released as a single in the United States, it reached as high as #3 on the Swiss charts, and also reached the Top 20 in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Austria.[2][3][4][5]

Contents

History

Like much of the Tunnel of Love album, "Tougher Than the Rest" was recorded in Springsteen's home studio, called Thrill Hill East, between January and May 1987 with several members of the E Street Band.[6] On this song, Springsteen played several instruments and is backed by Danny Federici on organ and Max Weinberg on percussion.[6] Although it was originally written as a rockabilly song, the final version has a slower and more methodical rhythm.[7]

On the Tunnel of Love album, "Tougher Than the Rest" is the second song, following the a capella "Ain't Got You", and introduces the sound that will permeate the remainder of the album.[8] The synthesizer sound is layered and melodic and the drum sound is moody, heavy and menacing.[7][8] Springsteen's vocal is also menacing and boastful as he sings the simple but elegant lyrics detailing his infatuation.[4][9][10]

At least one of the singer and the woman he is singing to appear to be on the rebound from prior relationships.[8] The singer recognizes that he his not a "handsome Dan" or a "sweet talking Romeo" and admits that he has "been around a time or two".[7][8] He is not bothered with the possibility that the woman may have "been around too."[8] Although the singer knows how messy and rough love can be, he claims that he is ready for it, but insists that the woman must also be equally tough and willing to take chances.[7] The song is in some ways reminiscent of Springsteen's earlier song "Thunder Road", in which the singer wants to take the woman away, even though he tells her that "you ain't a beauty but hey you're alright". But unlike the earlier song, in this song the singer's goals are more realistic — rather than looking to run away with the woman and trade their wings for wheels, here he just wants to ask the woman to dance.[8] In the context of this song the phrase, 'There's another dance, all you have to do is say yes.' Is an illusion to taking a chance and falling in love. This is echoed in the song 'Girls in their summer clothes' which contains the line 'Loves a fools dance, I aint got no sense, but I've still got my feet..

Like several other music videos from the Tunnel of Love album, including "Brilliant Disguise", "Tunnel of Love" and "One Step Up", the video for "Brilliant Disguise" was directed by Meiert Avis.[11] The video was later released on the VHS and DVD Video Anthology / 1978-88.[12]

Live performance history

"Tougher Than the Rest" has been reasonably popular in live performances. From the Tunnel of Love Express Tour that supported the initial release of the album through July 2005, the song received 98 live performances in concert.[13] A live version of the song, recorded on April 27, 1988 at Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was released on the EP Chimes of Freedom. That version runs 6:39.

Cover versions

Emmylou Harris recorded the most successful cover version of this song.[4][9] Other cover versions have been recorded by Everything But the Girl, Greg Hawks, Chris LeDoux, The Mendoza Line, Travis Tritt and Camera Obscura.[4][9] Cher performed the song during her 1990 Heart of Stone Tour and it is included in her Live at the Mirage DVD of that tour.

References

  1. ^ "Bruce Springsteen Chart History". http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/retrieve_chart_history.do?model.vnuArtistId=5738&model.vnuAlbumId=943342. Retrieved 2008-08-16.  
  2. ^ "Tougher Than the Rest - Switzerland". swisscharts.com. http://swisscharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Bruce+Springsteen&titel=Tougher+Than+The+Rest&cat=s. Retrieved 2009-03-29.  
  3. ^ "Tougher Than the Rest - UK". Chart Stats. http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=15456. Retrieved 2009-03-29.  
  4. ^ a b c d Patrick Humphries (1996). Bruce Springsteen. p. 78. ISBN 0 7119 5304 X.  
  5. ^ "Tougher Than the Rest". Irish-charts.com. http://irish-charts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Bruce+Springsteen&titel=Tougher+Than+The+Rest&cat=s. Retrieved 2009-03-29.  
  6. ^ a b "Bruce Base Tunnel of Love". http://www.brucebase.org.uk/11.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-03.  
  7. ^ a b c d June Skinner Sawyers (2006). Tougher Than the Rest 100 Best Bruce Springsteen Songs. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-8256-3470-3.  
  8. ^ a b c d e f Rob Kirkpatrick (2007). The Words and Music of Bruce Springsteen. Praeger Publishers. p. 113. ISBN 0-275-98938-0.  
  9. ^ a b c "Tougher Than the Rest". allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=33:jcfrxqtjld0e. Retrieved 2009-03-29.  
  10. ^ Dave Marsh (1996). Glory Days. p. xxvii. ISBN 1-56025-101-8.  
  11. ^ "Meiert Avis". imdb. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0043214/#director1980. Retrieved 2009-03-29.  
  12. ^ "Internet Movie Database - Bruce Springsteen: Video Anthology 1978-1988". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096987/. Retrieved 2008-08-04.  
  13. ^ "Bruce Springsteen Set List Page Tougher Than the Rest". http://www.brucesetlists.com/townlist.php. Retrieved 2008-08-03.  
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