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The Animals - House of the Rising Sun lyric meanings and song facts

All facts provided by Songfacts

This was the first song since 1962 by a British band to hit #1 in America that was not written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
This is about a brothel in New Orleans. "The House Of The Rising Sun" was named after Madame Marianne LeSoleil Levant (which means "Rising Sun" in French) and was open for business from 1862 (occupation by Union troops) until 1874, when it was closed due to complaints by neighbors. It was located at 826-830 St. Louis St.
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 Simeone. 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 recorded versions of this after it became a hit for The Animals.
The single version is cut down, but still runs about 4:30, which was very long for any song on the radio at the time.
Bob Dylan recorded this on his first album. The Animals version was one of the first songs to put a Rock rhythm to a Folk song, something Dylan did a lot soon after.
In the traditional Folk version, the main character is a prostitute. The Animals changed it to a gambler to make their version more radio-friendly.
The Animals performed this while touring England with Chuck Berry. It went over so well that they recorded it between stops on the tour.
The Animals recorded this in 1 take. They had perfected the song from years of performing it on the road.
This was the first #1 that was over 4 minutes long.
Alan Price is the only band member given credit for arranging this, meaning he is paid almost all the royalties. Their record company told the other members that there was not enough room to list them as arrangers.
The organ solo was inspired by jazzman Jimmy Smith's hit "Walk on the Wild Side." (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England)

All facts provided by Songfacts


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