High on the list of my favorite all-time songs is Jungleland, that soaring rock n’ roll epic about swaggering guys who have something to prove cavorting with barefoot girls who recline on the hoods of cars right before a knife is raised high into the shadows of a stark night and everything changes forever. It’s a pure masterpiece of writing, one that ignores typical conventions and instead surges forward with the haunting rhythm of a saxophone, some blaring and unrelenting guitars, and one of the single most beautiful measures of melody ever tinkled on a piano. Perhaps even more than anything I’ve read by T.S. Eliot – or anything I ever pretended to read, like Beowulf –Jungleland captures the loss of control and the spinning of the self and the disquieting way that literally anything can happen once the sun goes down.
The song’s lyrics are astounding. They’re poignant and profound in their construction and visceral in their effect. The words sketch a portrait of a life most of us will never experience; then they … Continue reading