House of the Rising Sun

“It’s been the ruin of many a poor girl” and boy……So it goes.

Many and various are the versions of this song, It was first written down and introduced to the world outside Appalacia by Alan Lomax in 1932, but the song’s origins may lie even centuries earlier. The earlier lyrics tell the laments of a young woman. Later on in the song’s life, it’s a poor boy who is telling the story.

House of the Rising Sun‘s been recorded very extensively. The setting is late 19th century New Orleans, way older than recorded music. So, like most folk songs, it has a rich history. Almost inevitably as a result of the song’s popularity and longevity, we have many versions and lyrics and melodies for it. The 1960’s Animals version of it is what I mostly use (and the Animals’ chord progression supposedly is the same as the one Bob Dylan used before them and Dylan got it from Dave Van Ronk and who Dave Van Ronk got it from I don’t know who). Anyhow, that’s how I play it here. (By the way, I also love the way Doc Watson plays it: in major key!). I would check out Doc Watson’s version just as soon as you’ve listened to Bumbas playing it, as he did this morning. I also put this song on the Up in the Bronx soundtrack, and it’s recorded already on this blog (see it in musica section). I’ve always loved to sing this song.  Anyway, sing along with it please.

14 thoughts on “House of the Rising Sun

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