Bruce Springsteen – Brilliant Disguise

God have mercy on the man
Who doubts what he’s sure of

I was 20 years old when I heard that lyric for the first time and a chill went through me. Brilliant Disguise I would play over and over again.

Springsteen sings this from the viewpoint of a man who is conflicted over a romantic relationship. Although he claims the song is not directly about him, Springsteen was having problems in his marriage to his first wife, Julianne Phillips, and they divorced soon after.

This was the first single off Tunnel Of Love, an album Springsteen recorded in his home studio in New Jersey. Tunnel of Love is one of my favorite albums by Springsteen. The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, Canada, and the UK.

The song peaked at #5 in the Billboard 100, #9 in Canada, and #20 in the UK in 1987. 

Bruce Springsteen: “I guess it sounds like a song of betrayal – who’s that person sleeping next to me, who am I? Do I know enough about myself to be honest with that person? But a funny thing happens: songs shift their meanings when you sing them, they shift their meanings in time, they shift their meanings with who you sing them with. When you sing this song with someone you love, it turns into something else.”

Brilliant Disguise

I hold you in my arms
As the band plays
What are those words whispered baby
Just as you turn away
I saw you last night
Out on the edge of town
I wanna read your mind
To know just what I’ve got in this new thing I’ve found
So tell me what I see
When I look in your eyes
Is that you baby
Or just a brilliant disguise

I heard somebody call your name
From underneath our willow
I saw something tucked in shame
Underneath your pillow
Well I’ve tried so hard baby
But I just can’t see
What a woman like you
Is doing with me
So tell me who I see
When I look in your eyes
Is that you baby
Or just a brilliant disguise

Now look at me baby
Struggling to do everything right
And then it all falls apart
When out go the lights
I’m just a lonely pilgrim
I walk this world in wealth
I want to know if it’s you I don’t trust
‘Cause I damn sure don’t trust myself

Now you play the loving woman
I’ll play the faithful man
But just don’t look too close
Into the palm of my hand
We stood at the alter
The gypsy swore our future was right
But come the wee wee hours
Well maybe baby the gypsy lied
So when you look at me
You better look hard and look twice
Is that me baby
Or just a brilliant disguise

Tonight our bed is cold
I’m lost in the darkness of our love
God have mercy on the man
Who doubts what he’s sure of