Surely all rock music fans have heard this ballad. It was born in the USA in the 30s of the last century, or maybe even earlier, and became a worldwide hit when it was performed in 1964 by the English band The Animals.
History of The House Of The Rising Sun
According to musicologists, the authors of the composition are Bert Martin and Georgia Martin – bluesmen from Kentucky. They put their verses on the melody of a folk English ballad.
There is other information. In 1933, the song was sung by Clarence Ashley, who claimed it was sung by his grandfather.
It is known that the song was sung by both men and women. The English language allows for this.
The song spread widely across America and was performed by a wide variety of musicians. Because of the passage of time, it is difficult to ascertain exactly which institution the authors had in mind by the words the house of rising sun. Or there was no “House of Rising Sun”, and it is just an allegory of the sunset of life, a symbol.
It is interesting that in the original version the composition was played in major on three ordinary blues chords. Later, when performed by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, it was given a more modern sound. The Animals use five chords, one of which is minor. Although many people believe the band based the song on Bob Dylan’s version, its lead singer, Eric Burdon, claimed to have heard it in Newcastle, where it was sung by Johnny Handle.
There are three versions. According to the first, it was the name of a brothel, the second says that it was a low-rent pub. Finally, it could have been an underground casino. If there was such an institution in New Orleans, it existed for a very short time.
As for the brothel version, there is information that in the middle of the century before last there was a brothel in New Orleans, the owner of which was called Marianne LeSoleil Levant, whose surname in translation from French sounds like “the rising sun”.
What is the song The House Of The Rising Sun about?
Apparently, the main character of the song is a young man belonging to the lower strata of society. The narrative is in the first person.
There is a house in New Orleans called “The Rising Sun”. He ruined many lives, and the protagonist is one of these people. After visiting this house, the hero’s life went downhill.
He goes on to summarize his biography. His mother was a seamstress. She sewed the guy new blue jeans. His father was an avid gambler and disappeared somewhere at the bottom of New Orleans. All of this is presented with bitterness about the lives lost. Although the hero’s mother is alive, she lives a miserable existence, and he can not help her, because he himself is mired in sin and poverty.
His life has become a game, and not only in the literal sense. He goes from the gaming table to the bottle. Life goes in a vicious circle. Apparently, our hero turns out to be a player not too lucky – he does not have a sniff for luck. About this he informs in the third verse.
This is followed by an appeal to his mother. “Mother, tell your children,” apparently meaning not just his siblings, but all young people. Let them not do as I have done. Nothing but sin, poverty and misery the House of the Rising Sun will bring them.
But the hero cannot leave New Orleans. He gets on the train, leaves, but again and again returns to the abode of vice. This is a temptation that he can not resist. It is his burden, his cross.
The first verse is repeated, which sums up everything said above. There is no turning back, nothing can be undone. Such a sad ending.
The fate of The House Of The Rising Sun
In 1964, The Beatles’ compositions invariably topped the charts. The House Of The Rising Sun was the first non-Beatles song to top the charts in UK and USA. The guys did a great job. Eric Burdon’s heart-wrenching vocals and the strong accompaniment on the electric organ by the band’s keyboardist Alan Price contributed to the success of the song. And the organ solo in the middle of the song was an innovation.
Of course, after such success the song had a great future ahead of it. It is constantly played on FM radio. It was covered by the British Geordie and the Swiss Krorus. They did it in a hard rock style. Russian musicians also played it. House Of The Rising Sun is a hit for all times.