Jungleland

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  • This is a poetic tale of life on the streets of New Jersey. Beginning with a simple piano intro, Springsteen goes through a series of abstract images and introduces a series of characters in the song, including Magic Rat and Barefoot Girl. It's a song that led to comparisons with Bob Dylan, notably Dylan's "Desolation Row."

    Born To Run came with lyrics to the songs, so listeners could follow along. Reflecting on the album years later, Springsteen singled out the last verse of "Jungleland" as an example of his work that had "a lot of overblown romance, but still contained the seeds of realism."
  • Running 9:33, this song takes a lot of unexpected musical turns. After a 45-second intro and two verses/chorus repetitions, a guitar solo comes in around the three-minute mark, but instead of following form with a chorus and outro, we get a vocal bridge ("In the parking lot the visionaries dress in the latest rage") followed by a sax solo that doesn't abate until six minutes in, taking the song to silence before it comes back to life with a piano section and another verse and some wordless wailing to close things out.

    Note how little of the running time can be considered chorus, which is really just the line "down in Jungleland," or at the end, "tonight in Jungleland."
  • Springsteen and the E Street Band performed this live for over a year before they recorded it. It developed into a longer song with a grand sax solo when it was finally released.
  • This features the piano of Roy Bittan. He joined The E Street Band for Born To Run after playing in orchestra pits on Broadway.
  • This was a highlight of Springsteen's 1999 reunion tour with The E Street Band. The tour went very well, and the band continued to play and record together.
  • Suki Lahav played the violin. She was the first female to play in Springsteen's band, and was with him from September 1974 - March 1975.
  • This is the last song on Born To Run, the breakthrough album for Springsteen. He tested the patience of Columbia Records by taking over a year to record it, refusing to release it until it was just right.
  • Clarence Clemons played a long sax solo on this track. With his bright suits and large stature, he was the most notable and popular member of The E Street Band, and when it came to this song, he wasn't demure. "That's one of the classic saxophone solos in the history of the world, if I may say so myself," he said. Clemons was disappointed when the song was not included on the 1995 Greatest Hits album.
  • As seen in the documentary Wings For Wheels on the 30th anniversary package of the album, one take of the song had a dramatic flamenco-style intro. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Marshall - Sacramento, CA
  • This song was a huge influence on Bob Seger, who completed "Night Moves" after hearing it. Seger had two verses of that song written, but struggled to finish it until he heard "Jungleland" and realized he could stretch out the song and explore different dynamics. "Night Moves" was released the following year (1976).
  • Melissa Etheridge said in Rolling Stone magazines 100 Greatest Singers Of All Time issue: "When Bruce Springsteen does those wordless wails, like at the end of 'Jungleland,' that's the definition of rock & roll to me. He uses his whole body when he sings, and he puts out this enormous amount of force and emotion and passion." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Springsteen didn't play this song live for over a year after Clarence Clemons died on June 18, 2011. When he did finally put the song back in rotation, it was at a show in Gothenburg, Sweden on July 28, 2012, with Clemons' nephew Jake playing the famous saxophone part. Springsteen dedicated it to "the big man" when he introduced it.
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Comments: 31

  • Mike from Flagstaff, AzI remember when Jungleland first hit the airwaves. It was a big deal because I'm from New Jersey too. Seeing a local boy with his face on the cover of Time magazine was a huge deal for us. We went to a record shop and got talking with the owner. He claims that, the meaning behind the Magic Rat rolling up his pant legs and taking a stab at romance had to do with the fact that The Rat was a heroin addict and that addicts used to shoot up in their ankles, so the cops wouldn't be able to see any needle tracks by looking at their arms.
  • Cole from Charleston, ScJungleland is one of the best songs to see live! Right next to Backstreets!
  • Zach from Atlanta, GaIf you don't get chills when roy starts this song you're not human.
  • Joe from Denver, CoJungleland has got to be Bruce's best! The imagery is just fantastic. I 've been a fan of his since the early 70's. I've seen him play in Asbury Park before he was a super star! Thank you, Bruce!!
  • Derek from Great Barrington, Ma SeenThe Boss about 60 times in the last 30 years and when The Professor begins tickling those ivories to start the song, it gets me right in the gut. By the time sax solo rolls round, I'm pretty emotional. What lyrics! What music! Thank you Bruce, for this gem.
  • Catherine from Chicago, IlI love the way he pauses here for emphasis:

    In a bedroom locked

    With whispers of soft

    Refusal

    and then

    surrender (draws this out here)

    It just makes such a statement. Can't quite describe how it makes me feel.
  • Pam from Somerset, NjThis is, in my opinion, the best song ever written. The vivid images that he evokes are like the most moving book you ever read, or the most wonderful movie you've ever seen. The piano line before the lyrics begin is simple and so beautiful. The sax solo is the most emotive solo I have ever heard. The end, with Bruce wailing, always brings on waves of emotion in me. I almost always feel like I am going to cry, when I listen to this song... and sometimes I do.
  • Rabitt from Sugar Land, TxI listen to the song just to hear Clarance wail!!! The man can hold a note! WOW!!!
  • Trond Are Pedersen from Hammerfest, NorwayThis is one of those songs in rock history which is like a little novel. But what is it really about ? What is Bruce trying to say here ? You can trace the environment from NJ and NY as he mentions the turnpike,the Jersey state line, Harlem etc. But who are those charecters ? The magic rat, the barefoot girl ?
    If I should ever meet Bruce this is one of the things I would ask him. What is Jungleland about ?
    It creates lots of images in my head, but I can`t really say what it`s about. maybe it`s an expression of alienation, of youthful desire to get out, has anybody out there any thoughts of what it`s about ?
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaI first heard this song from my dad's friend when we were on a Mexican vacation in '76. "...kids flash guitars just like switchblades hustling for the record machine...The hungry and the hunted explode into rock n roll bands..'Man. this stuck with me and I have been a Boss fan since.......
  • Gary from Blackwood, NjThe line, "They'll meet `neath that giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light", likely refers to what was Exxon's huge Bayway Refinery facility, which is located adjacent to the NJ Turnpike in both the cities of Elizabeth and Linden, NJ, but now owned by ConocoPhillips.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InThis is likely the greatest song by the Boss in a long line of greats.
    Holy cats! but doesn't Clarence sound fantastic on this?
    Then, you have some of the most evocative lyrics, such as the aforementioned "barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge..."
    But the ones that so perfectly encapsulate the mating ritual: "Beneath/The city/Two hearts beat/Slow engines running through a night so tender/In a bedroom locked/In whispers of soft/Refusal/And then, surrender"
    Damn! but that really hits it just right.
  • Katie from Dublin, IrelandFor me the definitive version of Jungleland is from live in New York City.It is incredible, much better than the original.
  • Jim from Guilford, Ctwhen my wife and i got introduced at our wedding reception, we came in to the sax solo from "Jungleland". my buddies rolled and i was happy to have bruce and clarence at my wedding
  • James from London, --bonus bittan bruce knopfler fact... Bittan played keys on the title track of "Tunnel Of Love"... opening track of the aforementioned Making Movies... "Tunnel of Love" mental or WHAT??
  • Rich from Bellevue, WaI totally agree with all the praise; this is Bruce's best song. Everything about it is just perfect, from the sweet string introduction, to the splended way the piano slides into a tight rhythm to start off the song proper, to the organ that comes in on the word "churches", to the explosion of energy as the full band comes in for the third verse... everything is just perfection before we even *get* to the transcendent sax solo! How about the sweet modulation in the middle of the last verse, as we move from the Eb of the sax-solo chords back into the original home key of C? This is not just a rock song, it's a masterpiece.
  • Andy from London, England"Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a dodge drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain". Pure poetry, makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up - you do not get better than this.
  • Larry from Columbia, ScI found Marco's comments most interesting. I didn't realize the connection between Mark Knopfler and Bruce. I'm a big fan of both. I love Dire Straits and Telegraph Road is a lyrical wonderland, like Jungleland. Knopfler has one of the most unique, mesmerizing styles of guitar play.
  • Bess from San Diego, CaI love the sax solo. It's the best of any Bruce song. When it's all put together, a great song is formed. Keep with it, Bruce.
  • Jerry from Pittsburgh, PaAs a long time fan of the Boss, I agree that this is his best work. It's interesting to note that this tale of the struggle and desperation of inner city life was recorded well before any of the rap music that glorified this genre. Well ahead of it's time and every bit as eloquent.
  • Jimmy from Twinsburg, OhI am in love with the sax solo, being a tenor and alto sax player myself. I worship Clarence, but not in a weird way.
  • Paul from Dallas, TxAbsolutely one of the greatest songs ever written. The musical arrangements and the lyrics show what a genius Springsteen is. Springsteen's music from the 70's is a masterpiece. It's in a class by itself. If someone heard it for the first time 50 years from now, they would think it was written at that time. It doesn't sound like it's from any particular era.
  • Paul from London, EnglandMade somehow, in the billy joel´s"scenes from an italian restaurant"way. But actually i think billy wrote that song a couple of years later than Jungleland.

    One of my favourites
  • Hayden from Pleasanton, CaThe sax solo is so frekin crazy. Clearence has to be the bast saxaphonist ever. He is like the Hendrix of saxes.
  • Andy from Olmsted Falls, OhDoes anybody else think that the sax solo is just about the most amazing thing they ever heard?
  • Ryan from Manchester, NhWhen recording this song Bruce made Clarence keep playing the sax solo until it was perfect, and there were three reels of just the sax solo
  • Eduardo from Tijjuana , MexicoIm a huge Bruce fan and I think that this is about a guy who kills his girl.
  • Marco from London, EnglandHere's an interesting link. Jungleland I believe was recorded in 1975, the main piano riff is the same riff as Mark Knoplfer plays on the guitar on Dire Straits Romeo & Juilet (recorded 1980). Now the funny thing is, is that Roy Bittan (E Street pianist) is the session musician for Dire Straits on that album Making Movies! Wonder if Roy borrowed it from Springsteen or wrote it himself.
  • Chris from Marana, AzBy far my favorite rock song of all time. It makes no profound statements about the human condition, or political statements, but what it does for me is demonstrate the absolute potential of rock and roll. For me, this song is pure poetry. Having grown up in the tri-state area, all of these images had very specific referents... This is the song that defines rock and roll for me, and defines what I look for in rock and roll music. It is to me, a work of perfect beauty and sadness, and man those last few lines of the song (some of which I believe were referenced in a Stephen King book), "The street's on fire / In a real death waltz / Bewteen what's flesh and what's fantasy / And the poets down here don't right nothin' at all / They just stand back and let it all be..." and so on...well, if those were the last lines ever sung in rock music, that'd be just fine with me. In my opinion, this is as good as music gets, period. It's one of those songs I don't even like to share with other people who haven't heard it, unless they're a very certain kind of person. It is sacred to me. Thanks Bruce.
  • Reed from Hagerstown, Ini noticed that too, sean...
  • Sean from Boston, MaThe Magic Rat of this song, and Spanish Johnny of "Incident on 57th Street" (The Wild,Innocent, & the East Street Shuffle) are essentially the same character
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