The Animals: ‘House of the Rising Sun’ Hits 50 Years

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Fifty years ago, The Animals’ hit single “House of the Rising Sun” managed a three-week stint as Number One on the U.S. singles chart. As a result, rock, especially folk rock received a makeover, as the song majorly influenced later rock bands, such as The Who, Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and others. Though many artists have attempted covers of this classic from Five Finger Death Punch to Lauren O’Connell, the original remains the most recognizable rendition. At a lengthy four and a half minutes long, the record company feared radio hosts would be put off from playing the song, so the track length was initially printed on the record as only three minutes. Fans were not deterred by how long the song actually was. In celebration of the “House of the Rising Sun” jubilee, PPcorn has reviewed the hit single.

Opening with the famous electric rock chord of A minor on Hilton Valentine’s guitar, a tiny hint of bass backs him up. Eric Burdon’s vocals come in after the first run through the chord progression, boldly describing the house in New Orleans, which we come to realize later is actually the chorus – rather innovative of them to open with the chorus, no? After a brief instrumental interlude, the verses start officially, coming in full with that instantly recognizable 60’s Hammond organ sound fully fleshing out the song. A second verse quickly follows the first, instead of heading back to the chorus already. Shocking! A very necessary organ solo follows, creating visions of riding through the desert. The innovative arrangement makes up for the simplicity and repetitiveness of the melody.

The third verse brings it down a bit in tempo and energy, almost as if it were the third act in a play or film. Burdon and the Valentine soon push it back up again for the fourth stanza, to reiterate the urgency of the lyrics, which build up to the heart-piercing, “Well I got one foot on the platform / The other foot on the train / I’m goin’ back to New Orleans / To wear that ball and chain.” Burdon howls, repeating the chorus twice at the end: “Well there is a house in New Orleans / They call the Rising Sun / And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy / And God I know I’m one.” Suddenly, we really feel the gravity of the troubled boy’s message.

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