“Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses

Basically Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” draws a parallel between the “jungle” – a harsh, lawless environment – and city life. More specifically, the city it is considered to be referring to is Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles is a place that many people migrate to in search of stardom and fortune. And since Guns N’ Roses had actually followed this path in the past, the concept this song is based on is warning such individuals of the hardcore realities of the situation.

And in that regard, there is plenty of symbolism used throughout which can interpreted in various ways that lend to this idea. But in general, the singer is addressing a female who has obviously decided to come “to the jungle”. She may not have perceived the place as such before arriving. But once again, Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose has made it his mission to let her know that this is indeed a perilous location.

And fundamentally, what he is telling her is the city indeed has its appeal.  For instance, it is very-exciting and has the potential to fulfill the fantasies of those who are in search of big money. But she is not going to attain these pleasures “for free”. Indeed she’s going to have “to bleed” in order to survive in the jungle. Moreover as she spends an increasing amount of time in the environment, she will become more animal-like.

But specifically, once again due to the use of these creative metaphors, what dangers she faces are never stated explicitly. However, considering that in the bridge he refers to her as being “high”, in addition considering Guns N’ Roses own history as well as some of the imagery used in the music video, logically one of the perils he is highlighting is the prevalence of hard drugs.


So conclusively this is Guns N’ Roses’ take on city life, specifically in the major locale of Los Angeles. And we can say that the track’s overall purpose is to let listeners know that behind the appealing glitz of the City of Angels there is also a dark side which engulfs basically everyone who resides there.  Indeed the feisty characters whom we know as Guns N’ Roses are jungle inhabitants themselves.

Lyrics of "Welcome to the Jungle"

Birth of “Welcome to the Jungle”

This song originated from a riff Slash had developed, which Axl Rose first heard while residing in Slash’s mother’s basement.

Axl penned the lyrics later during a visit to Seattle, where he noticed that such a major city still “seemed a lot more rural”, i.e. more innocent, than Los Angeles.

But reports conflict concerning the initial inspiration for the song, as in where the phrase “welcome to the jungle” actually came from. However, based on the Rose’s own words, they are derived from him basically being threatened by a “Black guy” in Queens, New York who exclaimed, “You’re in the jungle!”

Release Date of “Welcome to the Jungle”

Guns N’ Roses released “Welcome to the Jungle” through Geffen Records on 28 September 1987. It was the second single on the band’s first album, “Appetite for Destruction”.

Perhaps due to the fact that Guns N’ Roses were just making a name for themselves, MTV decided to air the music video only once, very early on Sunday morning. But viewers fell in love with it, and it went on to become the most-requested song on the network. Indeed “Welcome to the Jungle” went on to win an MTV Video Music Award in 1988 in the category of “Best New Artist in a Video”.

A very successful song

Part of the reason the music video blew up despite initially receiving unenviable exposure would logically be that fans themselves love the tracks.  For instance, it has been placed on quite a number of ‘greatest songs’ lists, including Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and being ranked the ‘greatest hard rock song ever’ by VH1.

“Welcome to the Jungle” also peaked at number 7 in the United States (the Billboard Hot 100). In Britain (the UK Singles Chart), it reached number 24. Furthermore, it charted in five other countries.

And being such a great song, it has also been featured on a number of movies and video games. Those include:

  • “Lean on Me” (1989)
  • “Selena” (1997)
  • “Guitar Hero III” (2007)

The song was also used in the 1988 film “The Dead Pool”. Interestingly enough, Guns N’ Roses actually make cameo appearances in this film.

A fan favorite

“Welcome to the Jungle” is recognized as a regular part of Guns N’ Roses’ setlist. In fact it traditionally serves as their opening number during live performances.

Who wrote “Welcome to the Jungle”?

“Welcome to the Jungle” was written by Guns N’ Roses lineup at the time of its release. And this lineup was made up of the following names:

  • Steven Adler
  • Duff “Rose” McKagan
  • Axl Rose
  • Slash
  • Izzy Stradlin

And the track was produced by Mike Clink, who worked on a number of their songs.

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