House of the Rising Sun

Bourbon Street (New Orleans)Image by ~MVI~ (enchanted in camiguin) via FlickrAre you familiar with this 60's song? Where did you first hear it?

It is always nice to know where these tunes come from and also what their lyrics mean. The House of the Rising Sun is a folk song from the United States. Occasionally called Rising Sun Blues, it tells of a life gone wrong in New Orleans. I used to think that they were talking of drugs, now I see that it was just gambling. Depending on the version, the song may be sung from the perspective of a woman or a man.

The songs origins are somewhat curious though. Was there ever really such a place in New Orleans that inspired the lyrics to this song? I guess it depends on whom you ask. The song most definitely relates the story of a young boy led into a life of misery at a house of prostitution or gambling in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Two of the best-known renditions of the song are by the English group The Animals in 1964, which was a number one hit in both the United States and United Kingdom. The earliest recorded version dates back to 1932 by Clarence (Tom) Ashley as Rising Sun Blues, and it was recorded again in 1934 by The Callahan Brothers as Rounders Luck. With the evolution of folk music in the 1940s and 1950s, the song went through numerous incarnations, by such notable singers as Josh White, Huddie (Leadbelly) Ledbetter, Pete Seeger and Woodie Guthrie. As the 1960s rolled around, both Joan Baez and Bob Dylan made a stab at recording the song.

This 70s classic and has a nice progression for strumming and finger picking as well. On the piano, you can arpeggiate the chords.

In this song, it is easy to find those bass notes for each chord. Also you can do some variations on those bass lines. Play with them and see what suits you best.

l Am C l D F l Am C l E E l
l Am C l D F l Am E l Am Am l

Look at how many views of this song:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=pRV9QCXLtHQ

 Lyrics to House of the Rising Sun

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 sewed my new bluejeans
My father was a gamblin' man
Down in New Orleans

Now the only thing a gambler needs
Is a suitcase and trunk
And the only time he's satisfied
Is when he's on a drunk

------ organ solo ------

Oh mother tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Spend your lives in sin and misery
In the House of the Rising Sun

Well, I got one foot on the platform
The other foot on the train
I'm goin' back to New Orleans
To wear that ball and chain

Well, 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


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A staple of classic rock and oldies radio stations, The song, House of the Rising Sun, is a staple of classic rock and oldies radio stations, for sure. Now it is your time to play it!

 All the best,



"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." -- Art Blakey
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