What’s The REAL Meaning Behind The Song “House Of The Rising Sun”?
Q: What can you tell us about the background behind the Animals' song HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN?
A: HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN has roots as far back as the 17th century and was based on a British folk melody. The melody can be linked with "Lord Barnard and Little Musgrove" among other traditional tunes. The "rising sun" has for years been a symbol for brothels in British and American ballads and sung mostly by both black and white Southern musicians. Bluesman Texas Alexander first recorded it in 1928 and in 1937 the lyrics were finally written down as the song was being sung by a miner's daughter, Georgia Turner, in Middlesborough, Kentucky. The lyrics were then adapted to a male point of view and made popular by singer Josh White. Roy Acuff commercially recorded the song on Nov 3, 1938; then Bob Dylan recorded a version (it's been said THIS was the song that encouraged Dylan to switch from acoustic to electric guitar). Then the song was picked up and made into a #1 hit by The Animals in 1964. But as to the original writer? It seems many people made various contributions to this song over the past few centuries, musically and lyrically, making it what it is today. The version we're familiar with is a story about a brothel in New Orleans named after Madame Marianne Le Soleil Levant, which is French for "Rising Sun." The brothel opened in 1862 when Union Troops occupied the town and closed in 1874 when the town received too many complaints by neighbors.