- Bruce Springsteen
- 'Jungleland', autograph manuscript lyrics
into rock + roll bands that
face off against each other in the
street down in Jungleland..."
Springsteen's working draft manuscript of his rock ballad of doomed romance and gang violence that closes Born to Run, his breakthrough third album. Springsteen's 'Jungleland' is a New Jersey riven by poverty and gangs, described in near-apocalyptic terms. The song begins with the "Magic Rat" driving from the city and meeting his "barefoot girl" and ends with him gunned down in the "hallways in the night", but its central section - the lines found in the current manuscript - zoom outwards to give a powerful and broader vision of night-time gangland ferment which merges into a raucous rock and roll concert.
This manuscript provides important insights into Springsteen's composition process and contains numerous textual differences from the final version of the song. The draft has details that were later removed, referencing the "giant Jersey Central Exxon sign" (the location was later cut) and giving the gangs a specifically Latino identity (in this manuscript the original reading "Spanish girl" is revised to "backstreet girl"). It also has images that were subsequently refined, such as the young men who in this manuscript "flash guitars like bayonets | + rip holes in their jeans", which becomes the more fully-realised "Kids flash guitars just like switch-blades hustling for the record machine".
Although the lyrics are bleak, in the hands of Springsteen and the E-Street Band the song becomes an exhilarating journey; in the words of Springsteen himself in a 1975 interview, "the whole rhythm of the whole street thing runs right through that song" (Talk About a Dream: the Essential Interviews of Bruce Springsteen (2013), p.38). The song begins with a violin and piano introduction and features a searing three-minute saxophone solo by Clarence Clemons.