‘Human Touch’ – Springsteen 70 Project, No. 20

human touch springsteen

The cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Human Touch” album.

Lyrically and sonically, the title track of Bruce Springsteen’s Human Touch album sounds like it could have come from his previous album, Tunnel of Love. That was fitting, in a way, for an album on which Springsteen seemed to be more interested in craftsmanship than in getting something urgent off his chest. But that craftsmanship — evident mostly, perhaps, in the elegant way the chorus builds to that “just a little of the human touch” capper — makes “Human Touch” a first-rate song, anyway.

Its theme is a familiar one, for Springsteen fans. An ordinary guy looks to find a little love and happiness in the real world.

“You’ve been broken and you’ve been hurt; show me somebody who ain’t,” sings Springsteen. “Yeah, I know I ain’t nobody’s bargain, but hell, a little touchup and a little paint …”

Not bad. But that’s really just another way of saying the “Thunder Road” lines, “I’m no hero, that’s understood/All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood.”

The production sounds a little dated, and the video (which won a VMA award from MTV) adheres closely to the conventions of the time. The burst-of-passion interlude at the 4:40 mark (see below) suggests Springsteen had been listening to a lot of U2.

It would be great if Springsteen could hit a homer every time he steps up to be plate. But hey, he’s only human. And “Human Touch” is a very solid double.

Background facts: Springsteen released “Human Touch” on his 1992 album of the same name. It was also the album’s first single, released simultaneously with “Better Days” (from Lucky Town) and was a No. 16 in the United States. It did well in Canada, Australia and various European countries as well.

The track features Springsteen on guitar and vocals along with Roy Bittan on keyboards, Randy Jackson on bass, Jeff Porcaro on drums and Patti Scialfa on backing vocals.

According to Brucebase, Springsteen performed it 126 times between 1992 and 2016.

On each of the 70 days leading up to Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday (on Sept. 23, 2019), NJArts.net will do a post on one of The Boss’ best songs of the last 30 years. We’re starting with No. 70 and working our way up. For more on the project, click here.

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