"God have mercy on the man who doubts what he's sure of."
- Brilliant Disguise, Tunnel of Love
Tunnel of Love is probably Springsteen's most controversial album. It was his first album after the departure of Steven Van Zandt. Some fans consider it an E Street album, but others do not. After the massive success of Born In The USA most people thought Bruce would take the easy route and create more simple pop anthems. Instead, he released his most introspective album. In the end, Tunnel of Love is basically Bruce singing about leaving his first wife, actress Julianne Phillips, for his current wife, E Street Band member Patti Scialfa. The above-referenced lyric summarized the entire album. A majority of the songs are about deception and mistrust. When criticized for his affair with Scialfa, Bruce responded:
"It's a strange society that assumes it has the right to tell people whom they should love and whom they shouldn't. But the truth is, I basically ignored the entire thing as much as I could. I said, 'Well, all I know is, this feels real, and maybe I have got a mess going here in some fashino, but that's life.'"
He also noted that,
"I went through a divorce, and it was really difficult and painful and I was very frightened about getting married again. So part of me said, 'Hey, what does it matter?' But it does matter. It's very different than just living together. First of all, stepping up publicly - which is what you do: You get your license, you do all the social rituals - is a part of your place in society and in some way part of society's acceptance of you...Patti and I both found that it did mean something."
I don't think anyone enters any serious relationship, romantic or platonic, and envisions how it will end. I don't think Bruce married Julianne Phillips with the intention of cheating on her, but I don't think he hired Patti Scialfa with the intent of having an affair with her. But when Bruce followed his heart, he lost his wife, his band, and the support of many fans. But instead of defending his actions, Bruce simply asked for mercy. In the end, he was rewarded with a new marriage that he's been in for over 20 years, the reunion of his band, and the undying allegiance of millions worldwide.