[24] The Animals – House Of The Rising Sun

20 Sep

Since this week’s guest blogger covered this track so well, and since it brings to mind such a vivid memory for me, allow me to try something a little different this week.


It is the moment when the 80s give way to the 90s and I am at a youth leadership conference in North London, a young teen learning how to work with even younger kids.

It was at one of these things a couple of years earlier that I discovered the power that my singing voice had over groups of people, and I now take every opportunity to burst into song. In many ways it has begun to define my personality. I am a little less shy, a little more outgoing with a skill to anchor my confidence to.

It is late at night now, workshops over for the day, and we are all socializing in the sprawling hotel lounge when a scruffy bunch of 20-something guys walk in, sweaty and tired looking, carrying guitar cases, drum paraphernalia.

It turns out they are a German rock band coming back from a gig.

We notice that we are dressed alike, me and them – with our long hair, our black tee shirts with band names printed on them, our tight jeans, our cowboy boots – and they stop to say “Hi”.

We have some homemade fakebooks lying around – used to kick start sing-alongs, full of perennial classics as well as more recent songs that will be obsolete in a few months – and somehow, in no time at all, we find ourselves lounging on the couches, guitars in hand.

Scientists will tell you that they don’t know what 90% of the brain’s capacity is used for. In my case it is clearly filled with song lyrics, and this comes in incredibly useful at times like these as we start to play Beatles classics, Bon Jovi and Guns ‘n’ Roses ballads, Clapton and Zeppelin hits.

Then the guitarist asks if I play.

I don’t really, but I can finger four chords almost well enough and the song I know how to play with those four chords is “House of the Rising Sun” . . .

House of the Rising Sun

House of the Rising Sun











It is The Animal’s version that we all know – the somewhat sanitized, very male tale of a lost gambler rather than the darker original song of a fallen woman – and we all know every word, every nuance. We wail away, as I clumsily strum the almost right notes on a beautiful Ovation semi-acoustic handed to me by one of the Germans.

I know as it is happening that this is a memory that will live with me forever.

It is a moment where I step well outside my comfort zone and succeed, a moment where I am taken seriously by “adults” I aspire to be like, a moment where a group of strangers come together and make music that is raw and powerful, memorable, tuneful and true.

And the soundtrack is “The House of the Rising Sun”.

Owned before blogging? Yes. (2 of 24. 8%)
Heard before blogging? Yes. (4 of 24. 17%)
Recommend? Yes. (19 of 24. 79%)

Next week: Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85 – 92

4 Responses to “[24] The Animals – House Of The Rising Sun”

  1. ahigherrevelation September 21, 2013 at 9:07 AM #

    “Where words fail, music speaks.” ― Hans Christian Andersen


  1. [42] Joan Baez – Joan Baez | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - January 24, 2014

    […] was also highly amused to find the third version of “House of the Rising Sun” on this, our 42nd of 1,000 […]

  2. [19] The Almanac Singers – The Complete General Recordings | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - July 8, 2014

    […] album introduces an early cut of an upcoming “1,000 Recordings” entry “The House of the Rising Sun.” Here are the original lyrics, sung by Woody Guthrie from the point of view of the woman […]

  3. [107] The Blind Boys of Alabama – Spirit of the Century | . . . To Hear Before I Blog - April 24, 2015

    […] track is the genius reorchestrating of “Amazing Grace” to the melody and backing of “House of the Rising Sun”.  It works far better than it has any right […]

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