| August 25, 1975|
| Bruce Springsteen and Jon Landau|
"Jungleland" is an almost ten-minute long closing song on Bruce Springsteen's 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 opening.
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- "No one 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."Bruce Springsteen – electric guitar, vocals
Garry Tallent – bass guitar
Max Weinberg – drums
Roy Bittan – piano, Hammond organ
Clarence Clemons – tenor saxophone
Suki Lahav – violin
Strings arranged and conducted by Charles Calello
In September 2004, Q magazine rated "Jungleland" 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 placed this song at number 1170 in their top 6000 critically acclaimed songs. Additionally, the song is much beloved by fans and critics and continuously makes it onto lists of Bruce Springsteen's best songs.
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. Following the death of Clemons in 2011, the song was not played for a majority of the 2012 Wrecking Ball Tour. The song finally made its tour debut just before the end of the tour's second leg, during the second of two shows in Gothenburg, Sweden on July 28, 2012. In a hugely emotional moment Clemons' nephew Jake Clemons performed the signature saxophone solo, occupying Clarence's usual spot on the stage. After the song, both Springsteen and Roy Bittan gave Jake a hug. The song has since rejoined Springsteen's live rotation.
John Malkovich used the song, among an all-Springsteen theatrical soundtrack, in his 1980s Steppenwolf Theater production of Lanford Wilson's play, Balm in Gilead. It served as the background for a choreographed tableau of street denizens miming a tragic slice-of-life.
The American educational children's program Sesame Street featured a parody of Springsteen about addition called "Born to Add", which though ostensibly a parody of "Born to Run", is more musically and lyrically reminiscent of "Jungleland".
The post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel The Stand by Stephen King opens with three epigraphs, one of which is a section of lyrics from the song.