Saturday, June 28, 2014

The House of the Rising Sun

So I am going to talk about music this time around.

The House of the Rising Sun is a really old song that no one is sure of the actual origins of. It has been recorded many times by many different artists over the years. Originally it was from the point of view of a woman (, but with what is most likely the most famous version of the song by The Animals, they switched it to a male POV (

This last year the band Five Finger Death Punch released their version of it. The song is updated and the music is noticeably heavier. The song is very catchy and is getting a lot of play on the radio station I listen to. It has been stuck in my head for several days now.

Now to get geeky.

The most noticeable change in the Five Finger Death Punch version is the change of location from 'New Orleans' to 'Sin City' ( It is a change that for me really changes the over all idea of the song.

I'll be interested to know if others agree with me on this.

I always had the feeling that The House of the Rising Song was kind of a hidden place, that might be known about but no one admits to it. This idea works well with New Orleans, as it is a city that is known to have such places while at the same time people are not going to admit to it, but instead will help to keep it a well known secret.

So when they switched the city to 'Sin City', (my understanding is it is a direct reference to Las Vegas, and not a open reference a generic corrupt city or the comic book city of that name) it didn't feel right to me. In a city known for, if not celebrated for, being a center of corruption, does not have the same impact. To say you are going to Sin City or Las Vegas to take part in what the city is known for, it seems a little pointless and needless. For me the concept just does not have the same impact. With our main reference being gambling, it just does not seem like there needs to be a hidden, mysterious house in Las Vegas to sing about.

Still an enjoyable song and one that has an interesting history with a good deal of mystery to it.


  1. the song has a long history to be sure.
    At least from the early part of the 20th Century
    Mostly from a woman's point of view, which is natural, since it is obvious the song is from that of a prostitute
    Ramblin' Jack Elliott composed the version popularized by The Animals
    here he is performing another song on the Johnny Cash Show
    Bob Dylan took up Jack's arrangement and recorded it (not commercially), then the Animals took up Dylan's version of Rambin' Jack's.
    Several contemporary female performers then took this version and performed it, in various venues, including Joan Baez and one particularly exciting performance by Dolly Parton.
    I guess it is no surprise that another band takes up the song now. The version does seem sort of out of focus and not so much about the protagonist woman of the song, but sort about some fuzzy idea that makes the video seem a strange amalgam of The
    Road Warrior and some TV crime drama set in Las Vegas, with the Mob heavies putting the screws to the band -- so where does this have any connection with the song?
    The song itself is very interesting, a vignette of a period when New Orleans was a much wider open town than it is now, a portrait that lends itself to imagining the life of such a woman, making the serious observer stop and think.
    I don't know if that can be said about the newest version of the song, though.

  2. correction
    it was Dave Van Ronk's arrangement that Dylan recorded

  3. original artist singing the House of the Rising Sun

  4. Hmm, I don't see my earlier message in this thread, even though I have been getting updates. Besides The Animals, I have Sinead O'Connor's version and The Weavers' version. I never heard of this modern version, but checking out the video, it doesn't make sense to me (I'm an old geezer who doesn't know much popular culture later around 1980). There's no city in the video. The issues aren't the "trapped" issues of earlier versions of the song.

    I saw a movie about Ramblin' Jack, made by his daughter. I was really surprised to read that he wrote The Animals' version. It doesn't seem like his kind of thing, but I don't know him beyond that movie.

  5. Here's a more historical version:

  6. I made a mistake saying it was Ramblin Jack -- discovered it was Dave Van Ronk -- see the last two posts of mine