Jungleland - Bruce Springsteen


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Bruce Springsteen - Jungleland
"Jungleland" is an almost ten-minute long, epic closing song on Bruce Springsteen's classic 1975 album Born to Run, and tells a tale of love amid a backdrop of gang violence. It contains one of E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons' most recognizable solos. It also features short-time E Streeter Suki Lahav, who performs the delicate 23-note violin introduction to the song, accompanied by Roy Bittan on piano in the foreboding opening. Read more

The song in its lyrics mirrors the pattern of the entire Born to Run album, beginning with a sense of desperate hope that slides slowly into despair and defeat. The song opens with the "Rat" "driving his sleek machine/over the Jersey state line" and meeting up with the "Barefoot Girl," with whom he "takes a stab at romance and disappears down Flamingo Lane." The song then begins to portray some of the scenes of the city and gang life in which the "Rat" is involved, with occasional references to the gang's conflict with the police. The last two stanzas, coming after Clemons' extended solo, describe the final fall of the "Rat" and the death of both his dreams, which "gun him down" in the "tunnels uptown," and the love between him and the "Barefoot Girl." The song ends with a description of the apathy towards the semi-tragic fall of the "Rat" and the lack of impact his death had- "Nobody watches as the ambulance pulls away/Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light," "Man the poets down here don't write nothin' at all/They just stand back and let it all be."

The two sides of the Born to Run album are meant to mirror one another, and so the song is similar in tone and theme to "Backstreets", the final track on Side 1. "Backstreets", though it does end on a pessimistic note, does not close with as emphatic and final a statement of hopelessness, and leaves open a small possibility for something better. "Jungleland"'s ending, with the "Rat's" own dream killing him, is meant to be the final end of the desperate optimism and dreams articulated from the very beginning of the album.

"Jungleland" is considered one of Springsteen's best all-time songs, and appears accordingly on such lists. In September 2004, Q magazine rated it one of the "1010 songs you must own". In 2005, Bruce Pollock rated "Jungleland" as one of the 7,500 most important songs between 1944 and 2000. The aggregation of critics' lists at acclaimedmusic.net did not place this song in its list of the top 3000 songs of all time, but rated it as one of the 1975 songs "bubbling under" the top 3000.
Clarence Clemons playing his signature saxophone solo on "Jungleland" on the Magic Tour. TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, November 18, 2007.

In concert, "Jungleland" is usually played towards the end of shows. During the E Street Band's reunion tour in 1999 and 2000, it was part of a revolving "epic" slot, alternating with "Backstreets" and "Racing in the Street". When played, it is sometimes preceded by its Born to Run predecessor, "Meeting Across the River". Its appearances were rarer during The Rising Tour. During the 2007-2008 Magic Tour, "Jungleland" was played periodically, often played every third or fourth show in a slot where it alternated with "Backstreets", "Rosalita", "Kitty's Back", or "Detroit Medley" and gaining in frequency as the tour ended. It also appeared intermittently during the 2009 Working on a Dream Tour. Its performances in 2009 became substantially more frequent later in the tour as the band began to play Born To Run in its entirety at most shows.

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