House of the Rising Sun

Happy Easter!

Today, rather than the “folk-like” songs from my last two posts, let’s talk about an actual folk song, one of my favorites: The House of the Rising Sun; or as it was originally known, The Rising Sun Blues.

The House of the Rising Sun
The House of the Rising Sun (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is a house in New Orleans
they call the Rising Sun. 
It's been the ruin of many a poor girl
and me, O God, for one.
Opening lyrics, as sung by Georgia Turner to Alan Lomax in 1937

The best known version of the song is the 1964 version, by The Animals:

In the Animals’ version, the singer is a male, the son of a gambler who has abandoned his wife and child for “The House of the Rising Sun” — either a gambling house or a bar. At least, that’s how I understand the story. One of the attractive aspects of this song is how ambiguous it is, both in its story line and in its origins. For one thing, who’s singing the song — a woman, or a man? And what’s happening?

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