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Boomer Bong-Hits: House of the Rising Sun (File Under: If youth knew. If age could.)

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)


Eric Burdon & The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (Live, 2011)

Youth thinks it knows. Age wishes it didn’t know. Fifty years of bad roads, bad bad whiskey, and backwoods one-night gin joints will educate a voice in ways you do not learn in school.

The Animals recorded this in one take, as they had perfected the song from performing it on the road.

The Animals’ drummer John Steel recalls in 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)’.”

The producer Mickie Most recalls, “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.”  

The melody is a traditional English ballad, but the song became popular as an African-American folk song. It was recorded by Texas Alexander in the 1920s, then by a number of other artists including Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White and later Nina Simone. It was her version The Animals first heard. No one can claim rights to the song, meaning it can be recorded and sold royalty-free. Many bands covered the song after it became a hit for The Animals.

The folk music historian Alan Lomax recorded a version in 1937 by a 16-year-old girl named Georgia Turner. In this context, it is sung in the first person, present tense with the singer lamenting how the House of the Rising Sun has ruined her life. In this traditional folk version, the main character is either a prostitute or a prisoner. The Animals changed it to a gambler to make their version more radio-friendly.  The House Of The Rising Sun by The Animals – Songfacts


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 blue jeans
My father was a gamblin’ man
Down in New Orleans

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

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

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • gwbnyc April 7, 2021, 10:30 AM

    I saw, on a PBS program IIRC , Alan Price performing “I Put a Spell on You” stand alone- himself and a Hammond B3, no accompaniment. punched me right the eff out of the room, and it was on TV so I could only hear it once.

  • James ONeil April 7, 2021, 11:39 AM

    Georgia Turner singing it, may be the 1937 recording.


  • Gagdad Bob April 7, 2021, 12:27 PM

    Their first single took 15 minutes to make, but the second even longer.

  • rabbit tobacco April 7, 2021, 1:12 PM

    Saw Eric Burdon perform a midnight show
    many years ago. He came out on stage and
    told the audience, “some people play rock and roll, I live it.”

  • Skorpion April 7, 2021, 8:29 PM

    One of the most powerful and soulful of all rock voices.

  • Jeff Brokaw April 8, 2021, 8:25 AM

    This band is criminally under-appreciated in my book. We wore out “Best of The Animals” back in the day.

    Amazing singing from Burdon who in my estimation is the best “blued-eyed soul/R&B” singer ever. The whole band is good, and they seamlessly move from their own classics like this and “It’s My Life” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” to John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” and Fats Domino “I’m in Love Again” plus Bo Diddley, Ray Charles, etc.

    That organ solo at about 3 minutes in “House of the Rising Sun” gives me chills every time I hear it.

  • Sam L. April 8, 2021, 8:27 AM

    Here’s “I Put A SPELL On You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins:
    …and a few others…

  • Sam L. April 8, 2021, 8:34 AM

    MAIN STREET MEDIA LIES: As I keep saying (in varying places), I don’t KNOW if the media is/are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dem Party, or if it’s the other way round, but it’s OBVIOUS that they are in CAHOOTS. Sleep in the same beds.

  • Dirk April 8, 2021, 8:50 AM

    Saw Eric three summers ago in South Tahoe, was a once in a life time-show. A bucket list show, was with a crew of twelve, all my age, all well versed in rock and roll shows from the early 70s, around Sacramento Ca.

    Highly recommend seeking him his band out! Killer Show.

    Village Idiot

  • ghostsniper April 8, 2021, 12:31 PM

    One more toon that will get your ass slammed if you pull it off in a guitar store.
    Here’s the short list with worst infractors first:
    1. Stairway
    2. Cat scratch
    3. Teen Spirit
    4. Paranoid
    5. House

    Now, if you are real good, and want to force eyeballs out of sockets, grab that set of humbuckers off the wall and light up Via’s “For the Love of God”, and don’t miss a single fukkin nuance. 7 minutes later, after he comes of of the coma, the store owner will give you outright that wall hanger you just destroyed.

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