House of the Rising Sun: Song

Bob Dylan's version of this American folk song is one of those songs that just blows your mind. On Dylan's debut album he credits himself as the author of the song, however there had been many versions before his, Dylan was purely the arranger of this version.

The song is about a life gone wrong in New Orleans and is unique in that it can be sung from either a female or male perspective. The song is believed to have been either about a brothel, a hotel (where an unusually large number cosmetics were found when the site was excavated - linking the hotel to prostitutes) or a female prison - all three sites in New Orleans which bare some connection to the title "the house of the rising sun".

The song would have been lost forever if it hadn't been for Alan Lomax, curator of the Archive of American Folk Song at the the Library of National Congress in 1932, adding the song to the collection.

The song has been covered by Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez and, most famously, The Animals. The Animals version, influenced greatly by Dylan's, was so famous that Dylan was accused of imitating them and stopped playing the song altogether after the success of their recording.

1 comment:

i get ideas. said...

I'm pretty sure that Dylan stole the arrangement from Dave Von Ronk? Not that it matters... traditional folk songs definately made the rounds. Even little Marianne Faithfull did a version. I agree that the Animals version is also v. good- I know they ripped off Dylan but Burdon's vocals add some intensity. PS- LOVE your blog!!