Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
House of the Risin' Sun:
The House of the Risin' Sun
Hi, I'm Dr. BLT and I'm in the house. Well, perhaps given the subject matter of this song, that was not the greatest choice of phrases.
The Animals, who made this song famous in 1964, took about the same amount of time to record it as I recorded my cover—about 20 minutes.
They recorded it while taking a brief break from their UK tour with Chuck Berry.
When they recorded this song about a brothel in New Orleans that opened for business in 1862, a brothel named after Madame Marianne LeSoleil Levant (which means "Rising Sun" in French, they became overnight superstars.
Little did they know that this song, and this house would make them household names almost instantly, all over the world.
Like every good song, you know it's a good song when everybody and their mothers want to record a cover of it. The song, based on a traditional English ballad, was first recorded in 1920 by Texas Alexander as an African-American Folk song. Artists besides the Animals that have covered it include Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Jost White, Nina Simeone, Bob Dylan, and now, by me, Dr BLT J
It's about a brothel, but one of the reasons it has stood the test of time is that its also about something more universal—human nature, more specifically, the dark side of human nature.
Freud called it Thanatos. It's the urge to self-destruct. Janis Joplin did it. Jimi Hendrix did it. Curt Cobain also went insane and crashed his own train. Rising stars that seem imbued with life choose death. It's a universal theme that is captured in this quintessential song of failure, remorse, regret and self-destruction.
There is a house in New
Like every good story, this one comes with a place, a person, and a plot.
My mother was a tailor
Like every good story, this one develops the character in the context of his roots. This verse brings up the old nature vs. nurture argument. It seems that the character in this story has inherited, at least to some extent, his father's predilection for gambling, though the site and the subject of his gambling is different.
Now the only thing a gambler
Like every good story, it is a story of vice and virtue. The vice is conspicuous in the song. The virtue is not so conspicuous. That comes from reading between the lines to learn that this is a song offering virtue to the listener in the form of a warning and some "sound" advice.
Oh mother tell your children
Like every good story, there is a valuable lesson to be learned—in this case, the valuable lesson comes in the form of what not to do. In the Homer Joy interview, Homer tells us that the best form of advice for musicians comes in this very form, yet too few heed such advice, much to their demise.
Well, I got one foot on
Like every good story, a way out is offered. The way out is to pull the foot off the train, and have the New Orleans-bound foot join the platform-secure foot.
Well, there is a house
in New Orleans
Like every good story, the
song, and the story it tells, ends on a humble note. The beginning
of the road to recovery is paved with a humble admission, and a willful
abandonment of the denial that keeps us wedded to our vices.
The only part the main character in the song/story never reaches is repentance.
Admitting that you're on the wrong road is not enough. You have to
get off the road and get on to the road less traveled.