- The House of the Rising Sun Lyrics: There is a house in New Orleans / They call the Rising Sun / And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy / And God, I know I'm one / My mother was a tailor / She.
- Dave Marsh described the Animals' take on 'The House of the Rising Sun' as '.the first folk-rock hit', sounding '.as if they'd connected the ancient tune to a live wire'.
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View credits, reviews, tracks and shop for the 1970 Vinyl release of 'The House Of The Rising Sun / Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood' on Discogs.
The Animals for 'The House of The Rising Sun' - The Animals Tribute Channel / Youtube
“The House of the Rising Sun” was a traditional folk ballad about a person’s life going wrong in New Orleans, with different versions using various narratives with the same themes.
Many believe that this points out to a brother in New Orleans, where the song was supposedly named after the occupant Madame Marianne LeSoleil Levant, which meant Rising Sun in French. Another popular theory goes that it was about a women’s prison in the city which had a gate that bore a rising sun motif (allegedly a reference to the “ball and chain” lyric in the song).
The song followed a traditional English ballad arrangement but became a phenomenon as an African-American folk song. It was first recorded by Texas Alexander in the 1920s and was followed by several artists including Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and Nina Simone, whose version was the first heard by the Animals.
The band first performed the song while on tour in England with Chuck Berry. Seeing the response of the audience to the song, the band decided to record it between stops on the tour. In a 2010 Songfacts interview, frontman Eric Burdon said: ‘House of the Rising Sun’ is a song that I was just fated to. It was made for me and I was made for it. It was a great song for the Chuck Berry tour because it was a way of reaching the audience without copying Chuck Berry. It was a great trick and it worked. It actually wasn’t only a great trick, it was a great recording.”
It was also The Animals who were responsible for turning Bob Dylan into an “electric” artist, who heard their version of the song and realized it was possible to put a rock rhythm on a folk song, It was in the 1965 Newport Folk Festival where Dylan did a set in electric for the first time, surprising fans and critics alike. Burdon told Songfacts: “Bob Dylan, who was angry at first, turned into a rocker. Dylan went electric in the shadow of The Animals classic ‘House of the Rising Sun.'”
The song was also recorded in one take as The Animals were already adept in playing it from numerous instances in touring. Drummer John Steel shared how it came to be on 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: “We Played Liverpool on May 17, 1964 and then drove to London where Mickie (Most) had booked a studio for ITV’s Ready Steady Go! Because of the reaction we were getting to ‘Rising Sun,’ we asked to record it and he said, ‘Okay we’ll do it at the same session.’ We set up for balance, played a few bars for the engineer – it was mono with no overdubs – and we only did one take. We listened to it and Mickie said, ‘That’s it, it’s a single.’ The engineer said it was too long, but instead of chopping out a bit, Mickie had the courage to say, ‘We’re in a microgroove world now, we will release it.’ A few weeks later it was #1 all over the world. When we knocked The Beatles off the top in America, they sent us a telegram which read, ‘Congratulations from The Beatles (a group)’.”
Producer Mickie Most added: “Everything was in the right place, the planets were in the right place, the stars were in the right place and the wind was blowing in the right direction. It only took 15 minutes to make so I can’t take much credit for the production. It was just a case of capturing the atmosphere in the studio.”
While The Animals were successful with their chart rankers in the US, they split in 1968 due to creative differences and business decisions. Burdon says that the band wasn’t given enough time to mature, sharing in an interview with Songfacts that: “I don’t think that The Animals got a chance to evolve. We were the first to admit that we took blues songs from American artists, but if the Animals had stuck together and worked together instead of worrying about who was getting all the money, we could have evolved more and come out with more music to be proud of.”
Only the band’s organist, Alan Price, was given credit for arranging the track as the record company said that there wasn’t enough room to include all the members as arrangers. As a result, Price gets the majority of the song’s royalties. Price performed the organ solo that was shaped after jazzman Jimmy Smith’s hit, “Walk On The Wild Side”, on a Vox Continental.
It is interesting how Burdon didn’t perform the song for a long time after the Animals split, calling it an “embarrassment”. He has since made peace with it, however, and has revisited it on various occasions in different styles.
Although “The House of the Rising Sun” has a distinct storyline, it is actually based on a folk song that centered on a completely-different character. Moreover ‘the house of the Rising Sun’ in the traditional rendition is considered to be either an actual historical prison or house of working girls. So for instance the reference to the “ball and chain” near the end of the song is largely considered to allude to said penitentiary. But in The Animals’ case, it reads as if the title itself may rather refer to a gambling house.
Still though there remains the moral undertone of the lyrics, as the singer is advising the listener not to fall prey to the “sin and misery” that he has. And the insinuation is that his vice is something along the lines of gambling and consequentially excessive drinking. This is because he acknowledges his own father as possessing those weaknesses. And the conclusive message is that somehow this lifestyle has gotten him, the singer, into serious trouble with the law. Moreover he has witnessed “many a poor boy” also have their lives ruined via ‘the house of the Rising Sun’.
So all things considered, the lyrics of this song can be understood as advising the audience, particularly young men, to be wary of falling victim to a gambling addiction and alcoholism.
Interpretation of “The House of the Rising Sun”: By Another Hand
“The House of the Rising Sun” reflects an unpleasant place which has a bad influence on the writer’s life as a boy. The song speaks about picking up bad habits from this house in New Orleans as a young man. The writer describes his mother as a diligent woman who probably wanted him to make the best out of life by working hard and leading a decent life.
The writer mentions her sewing ‘blue jeans’, which is an American symbol representing people in the working class. This young man’s father is a gambler and unfortunately, this is the example he follows. He gives a picture of his father’s life as that of a typical gambler who doesn’t have time to maintain relationships. He’s unable to settle at a place for too long and is constantly moving his suitcase in and out of his car trunk across several towns. His lifestyle doesn’t give him much to be glad about so he relieves his stress by becoming an alcoholic. This scenario also gives an image of what the young man has learned at the House of the Rising Sun.
The writer consequently pleads with other mothers, who in his own experience seem more responsible than fathers, to not allow their children follow in his footsteps. Although he admits and regrets that his life has become a mess, he seems to have no option than to return to New Orleans to continue his lifestyle. He uses the words ball and chain as a metaphor to describe the extent to which he has now become a prisoner to his addiction of gambling and alcoholism.
It is unclear if the House of the Rising Sun is a place which existed as the writer portrays in the song. However, the essence of this song is that children mostly pick up bad habits from the people and neighborhoods in which they grow. The song emphasizes on the need for parents to be more responsible.
“The House of the Rising Sun” makes History
If you recognize the genre of folk-rock music, then you have The Animals’ “The House of the Rising Sun” being the first song to hit under this category. The track was released by MGM Records on 19 June 1964 as the second single from the band’s eponymous album, which was also their first.
Slightly Different Lyrics
The lyrics of The Animals’ version are a different take than the character “The House of the Rising Sun” is traditionally based on. For example, older renditions of the ballad were relayed from the perspective of a female who was considered to be either imprisoned or a working girl.
Indeed the folk song itself dates back to at least the early 20th century and perhaps even a significant time before that. And the oldest recorded version dates back to the Roaring Twenties.
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Moreover it is said that The Animals’ themselves picked up the song when they heard it being recited in a British club by a folk singer named Johnny Handle.
Nina Simone’s Version of “The House of the Rising Sun”
Despite the above, “The House of the Rising Sun” has been traditionally sung by African-American performers. As such, it is also theorized that it was actually Nina Simone’s 1962 take on the tune which caught The Animals’ attention.
The House Of The Rising Sun Meaning
The Animals recorded this song in a single take!
And when The Animals did record the song they did so expeditiously, in fact in one only take. This is due to them having already perfected singing it on the road while they were simultaneously touring alongside rock-and-roll innovator Chuck Berry.
The Animals’ Version of “The House of the Rising Sun” is the most Successful
The Animals’ version went on to become the most-renowned of perhaps innumerable renditions of “The House of the Rising Sun”. And amongst its accolades is being placed on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. Furthermore, it was included in the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It has also made the RIAA’s list of “Songs of the Century” and has earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
The initial release of “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals topped the Billboard Hot 100. It also topped the Canada Top Singles and the UK Singles Chart in addition to charting in a handful of other countries.
It also charted in the UK in 1972 and 1982, the latter time also peaking at number five in Ireland.
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Who wrote “The House of the Rising Sun”?
The Animals’ Alan Price is recognized as the writer of the song, along with untraceable traditional sources.
And the producer is an English musician by the name of Mickie Most who was behind many hits from back in the day.