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Clarence Tom Ashley - "Rising Sun Blues" (mp3)
    #2977758 - 08/08/04 11:11 AM (13 years, 9 months ago)

I've found what I believe to be the first recorded version of the song that would eventually become "The House Of The Rising Sun" which was popularised by The Animals in 1964.

Here's something I found on the net about the song's history.......

Back in the early 1920s, the name "Rising Sun" was attributed to brothels. The traditional version of "The House of the Rising Sun" speaks, not of a boy's experience, but of a girl's. Fact was, the Animals did not write "The House of the Rising Sun." If you look at the really small print on their 1966 album, The Best of the Animals, you'll find it was only arranged by Burdon / Chandler / Price / Steele / Valentine. According to folklorist Alan Lomax in his book "Our Singing Country" [1941], the melody of "The House of the Rising Sun" is a traditional English tune and the lyrics were written by Georgia Turner and Bert Martin [both from Kentucky]. Above are the traditional lyrics from Lomax's book. Did the House of the Rising Sun ever really exist? A guidebook called Offbeat New Orleans asserts: "The real House of the Rising Sun was at 826-830 St. Louis Street, between 1862 and 1874 and was named for its madam, Marianne LeSoleil Levant, whose surname translates to The Rising Sun." But no one knows for certain.

The Animals 1964 hit version of the "House of the Rising Sun," you may not be familiar with the above set of lyrics. They were collected by Alan Lomax, the famous musicologist, on one of his extremely important field-recording trips to the Southern States of America. This particular version, entitled "The Rising Sun Blues," was recorded by him on September 15th, 1937, and credited to Georgia Turner of Middlesboro, Kentucky and other stanzas to Bert Martin of Manchester, Kentucky. The lyrics appear in Lomax?s 1941 book, "Our Singing Country."

Possibly the song was an old English, Scottish or Irish folk song, or melody, that had been brought over to these mountainous regions of America by British settlers a hundred or more years before. The words were obviously altered as New Orleans was THE den of iniquity in the South. We have heard of a version in England, whose lyrics are, There is a house in Lowerstoft they call the Rising Sun. Whether this was a dig at the Animals version or the original, we may never know but it is worth considering. English musicologist, Cecil Sharp, had collected many of these old English folk songs in the early part of the 20th century. Olive Campbell, the wife of a minister, had collected many ballads from the Appalachians and given them to Cecil Sharp. If you have not seen them, we recommend the movies "Songcatcher" and "O Brother Where Art Thou" for a glimpse of traditional and Old Timey music from the early 20th century.

Georgia Turner was not the first person to record the song. The earliest recorded version was by Clarence Tom Ashley in 1932, as "Rising Sun Blues" and in 1934, as "Rounder?s Luck" by the Callahan Brothers. Roscoe Holcomb recorded it as "House in New Orleans" and Dillard Chandler as "Sport in New Orleans."

The folk-music scene evolved in the 1940s and 1950s, with the likes of Josh White, Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, Pete Seeger and Woodie Guthrie all recording the song. The new-wave of folkies in the early 1960s soon began recording it, including Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Then, in 1964, came the classic version that everyone is familiar with by an R&B band from Newcastle-on-Tyne, England?.the Animals. Formed in 1958 as the Alan Price Combo, this was, at the time, the longest recording ever released on a 45 rpm single and because of that fact was given the kiss of death by the record industry. To their surprise, the record made No. 1 in England and the U.S.A. and is still popular throughout the world.

Hit versions followed in 1970 by Frijid Pink, in 1978 by Santa Esmeralda and in 1981 by Dolly Parton. Versions were recorded by such diverse artists as Andy Griffith, Doc Watson, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, Mike Auldridge, the Chambers Brothers, French singer Johnny Hallyday (as Le Penetencier), Dave Von Ronk, Joe and Eddie, The Weavers, Toots Thieleman, African singer Myriam Makeba and Snakefarm, to name a few. It has been recorded in different musical styles including Old Timey, Folk, Blues, R&B, Cajun, Disco, Punk, House/Trance, Jazz, Rock, Latin, Reggae and Country, not to mention Karaoke, elevator music, German tango and harmonica renditions; and has always been a favorite for guitar lessons by those budding Clapton and Hendrix freaks. It is probably one of the most recorded songs in history.

So here you are. Click the link below to enjoy this original version of "House Of The Rising Sun"

Clarence Tom Ashley - "Rising Sun Blues"


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