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The House of the Rising Sun

An American folk song.

Like many classic folk ballads, the authorship of House of the Rising Sun, sometimes called "Rising Sun Blues", is dubious. Folklorist Alan Lomax, author of the seminal 1941 songbook Our Singing Country[?], wrote that the melody was taken from a traditional English ballad and the lyrics written by a pair of Kentuckians[?] named Georgia Turner and Bert Martin. Other scholars have proposed different explanations, although Lomax's is generally considered most plausible.

In the early 20th century, the phrase "Rising Sun" was often used as a euphemism for a brothel or house of prostitution, and it is not known whether or not the house described in the lyrics is an actual or fictitious place.

The traditional lyrics, as recorded by Lomax, are as follows:

 There is a house in New Orleans
 They call the Rising Sun.
 It's been the ruin of many a poor girl,
 and me, O God, for one. 

 If I had listened what Mamma said,
 I'd 'a' been at home today.
 Being so young and foolish, poor boy,
 let a rambler lead me astray. 

 Go tell my baby sister
 never do like I have done
 to shun that house in New Orleans
 they call the Rising Sun. 

 My mother she's a tailor; 
 she sold those new blue jeans.
 My sweetheart, he's a drunkard, Lord, Lord,
 drinks down in New Orleans. 

 The only thing a drunkard needs
 is a suitcase and a trunk.
 The only time he's satisfied
 is when he's on a drunk. 

 Fills his glasses to the brim,
 passes them around
 only pleasure he gets out of life
 is hoboin' from town to town. 

 One foot is on the platform
 and the other one on the train.
 I'm going back to New Orleans
 to wear that ball and chain. 

 Going back to New Orleans,
 my race is almost run.
 Going back to spend the rest of my days
 beneath that Rising Sun. 

The best-known cover of the song is by The Animals, who added ambiguity to the lyrics by changing the gender of the singer. Other artists to cover the song include Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Peter, Paul and Mary, Dolly Parton and Johnny Hallyday.



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