Jungleland

Album: Born To Run (1975)
  • The Rangers had a homecoming
    In Harlem late last night
    And the Magic Rat drove his sleek machine
    Over the Jersey state line
    Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge
    Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain
    The Rat pulls into town, rolls up his pants
    Together they take a stab at romance
    And disappear down Flamingo Lane

    Well, the Maximum Lawmen run down Flamingo
    Chasing the Rat and the barefoot girl
    And the kids 'round there live just like shadows
    Always quiet, holding hands
    From the churches to the jails
    Tonight all is silence in the world
    As we take our stand
    Down in Jungleland

    The midnight gang's assembled
    And picked a rendezvous for the night
    They'll meet 'neath that giant Exxon sign
    That brings this fair city light
    Man, there's an opera out on the Turnpike
    There's a ballet being fought out in the alley
    Until the local cops, Cherry-Tops, rips this holy night
    The street's alive as secret debts are paid
    Contacts made, they flash unseen
    Kids flash guitars just like switchblades
    Hustling for the record machine
    The hungry and the hunted
    Explode into rock 'n' roll bands
    That face off against each other out in the street
    Down in Jungleland

    In the parking lot the visionaries dress in the latest rage
    Inside the backstreet girls are dancing
    To the records that the DJ plays
    Lonely-hearted lovers struggle in dark corners
    Desperate as the night moves on
    Just one look and a whisper, and they're gone

    Beneath the city, two hearts beat
    Soul engines running through a night so tender
    In a bedroom locked in whispers
    Of soft refusal and then surrender
    In the tunnels uptown, the Rat's own dream guns him down
    As shots echo down them hallways in the night
    No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
    Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light

    Outside the street's on fire in a real death waltz
    Between what's flesh and what's fantasy
    And the poets down here don't write nothing at all
    They just stand back and let it all be
    And in the quick of a knife, they reach for their moment
    And try to make an honest stand
    But they wind up wounded, not even dead
    Tonight in Jungleland Writer/s: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 32

  • Broncobuff from SeattlePhenomenal piece of music, the piano tracks by Roy Bittan might be the most dynamic and dramatic ever. And yes I said "tracks" plural, because if you listen closely - especially when the band comes crashing back in for the last part, whet Bruce does that incredible nonverbal wailing Melissa Etherige talked about in the comments above, if you listen closely there are TWO piano tracks, and they are glorious! I don't recall hearing double track piano on many other songs, but it certainly makes an impression on this one.
  • 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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