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 out 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

Well 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 vanish unseen
Kids flash guitars just like switch-blades
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
Bewtween 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 the night
They reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand
But they wind up wounded
Not even dead
Tonight in Jungleland


Lyrics submitted by fearofmusic, edited by Baffy

Jungleland song meanings
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49 Comments

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  • +7
    General CommentAmazing song. Perhaps.. no not perhaps, clearly, the best rock lyrics ever written. Springsteen, sadly, was never able to recreate the lyrical genius evident in Jungleland and Thunder Road.

    I'm an English major, I've read Tennessee Williams, and Faulkner, and Shakespear. I've read the poetry of Wordsworth, Dyland Thomas and Samuel Taylor Colleridge. And this work can stand with them.

    This song, IMHO.. is a statement of the struggle for young people living the streets to find some moments of joy. Close enough to spit at the affluent beachtowns of Long Island and Manhattan, the Magic Rat and the Barefoot girl find themselves in a whole different world.. and still there are moments of happiness for them.

    But that happiness is fleeting, and, by the end, the Rat is gone, and...

    " No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
    Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light".

    This is the essence of Springsteen at his best, evident in his early Albums right up until Born in the U.S.A., where he sort of lost his way, I think.

    It's the struggle that neither Ronald Regan, nor Barack Obama understand.. it's a world where no one asks for a handout, where no one expects there to be a silver lining, where hope is fleeting.. but where you struggle on, with pride and occasional moments of joy, drinking a warm beer in the soft summer rain.. or, in another song, just racing in the street..

    There is no grand message. No "moral" to the story. Only a glimpse into the lives of so many young people who grow up in worlds far removed from most of us.. and who find something like love, for a moment, as they disappear down flamingo lane.

    But.

    At the end.

    They're left wounded. Not even dead.

    (I just had a shiver. I've heard the song a thousand times, and it still moves me.)
    Roblaw2bon July 13, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General Commentif you haven't seen or heard the Live in NYC version of this song, you are missing out big time. My favorite all-time Bruce song
    glorydayz81on February 09, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is classic bruce. It touches on young love, lust, cars, driving, sex, drugs, mistakes, and hitting the ultimate low: wounded but not even dead. I love this song...it was the first Bruce song I ever heard, and I absolutely love the Live in NYC version. "barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a dodge drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain" it's beautiful

    the big man's guitar solo changed my life
    born2runon February 21, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentReminds me allooot of West Side Story
    myfriendbrennon April 06, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis is kinda like Springsteen's "Desolation Row" -- the place where it all happens for him
    myfriendbrennon October 13, 2007   Link
  • +2
    MemoryFunny, I played this song on my "ghetto-blaster" on a caleche ride in Old Montreal, on my first date with a beautiful young lady named Donna, back in May of 1984. We had tickets to see The Boss in August (Born in the USA), and I wanted to introduce her to Bruce in an intimate and memorable setting. I think we both teared (and hugged) listening to the song - one of those unexpected yet understandable emotional reactions to the sounds and poetic verses of a man you know is prophetic. Riding around beatiful Montreal on a horse-drawn carriage at night with the proclaiming and stirring sounds of Bruce Springsteen all seemed so cool and so right! So, on the night I proposed I borrowed a "limo" (my mom's Civic!) and drove down to Old Montreal. I played Jungleland on the car's cassette deck (pretending to play the local radio). Well that just set the mood, along with a chain of events which would end up with Donna saying, "yes"! That was back in 1991. We've had 3 kids and 2 dogs since, and last summer we were lucky enough to see Bruce (again!) in Montreal; he closed with Jungleland, and we embraced as we smiled and cheered (and wept).
    bossinbloodon January 31, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAfter 30years of enjoying this song, it still knocks me off of my feet and the sax solo DOES make me cry. As mentioned above, I too think of a connection to West Side Story when I hear it to an extent. I'm not saying that’s what the song is about but I have to wonder if there wasn't a connection as Bruce admittedly refers to a lot of movies for song ideas, "Thunder Road" (old B-grade flick) probably being one of the best well known. Jungleland is without a doubt my favorite song, Born to Run is awesome but it doesn’t ‘hit’ me like this song does. Clarence Clemons should be canonized as a saint for the Sax solo. There is nothing better in the world then a nice spring/summer evening in the car with the top down with this song going.
    Drew_on December 30, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti interpret this song as two visions that the magic rat has. One is the vision of him with the barefoot girl, and the other is of him in gang life/street violence. I think he experiences both of these visions in his life and with the song bruce draws the connection that both of them end the same way, in tragedy; with the girl he is shut down by her, and with the gang life, he dies.
    early15on June 15, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love how the song gets really really slow after the Sax solo (BTW my absolute favorite part) then it speeds up to a frenzy...then slows down again. It's like he's toying with your emotions, drawing it out, then making it speed up.
    Brilliant.
    KatShoe11on August 04, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is by far my favorite song of all time by any artist; it is an index by which I judge all other music. It is the song that made me into a music fan.

    The images are vivid and just flood the room with Clarence's transcendent sax solo.

    I have always felt it best not to analyze this one too much: the images are what they are. Just close your eyes and picture standing near the tunnels on either side of the Hudson River, watching this all unfold. (Some have suggested this takes place in Asbury Park, but I have always pictured it in New York City, which seems to fit better with the lyrics.)

    It's basically one night on the streets - a single night frozen in time.

    All that has to be said can be said about this song. This is as good as music gets, and it has kept me company now for 23 years or so.

    You put this on, and I'm in church. No talking please. And any sinners in the vicinity can bow their heads and have their sins forgiven by that sax solo, which is still the best evidence I've found that there just might be a God after all.
    Quag7on September 25, 2009   Link

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