There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
Dear God, I know I was one

My mother was a tailor
She sewed my new blue jeans
And my father was a gamblin' man
Way down in New Orleans

And the only thing a gambler needs
Is a suitcase in the trunk
And the only time he's satisfied
Is when he's on a trump

Oh mother, tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Don't spend your life in sin and misery
In the House of the Rising Sun

I got one foot on the platform
And another on the train
And I'm goin' back to New Orleans
To wear that ball and chain

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
Dear God, I know I was one
Dear God, I know I was the one

Lyrics submitted by Novartza

The House of the Rising Sun Lyrics as written by Alan Price

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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House Of The Rising Sun song meanings
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  • +16
    General CommentBack in the early 20s, the name "Rising Sun" was popularly attributed to brothels in our Anglo/American culture. The traditional version of "The House of the Rising Sun" speaks, not of a boy's experience, but of a girl corrupted into a life of ruin.

    Your confusion probably starts with the fact that 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 that 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 Run" is a traditional English ballad and the lyrics were written by Georgia Turner and Bert Martin (both from Kentucky). The song was first recorded in the 1920s by black bluesman Texas Alexander and later covered by Leadbelly, Charlie Byrd, Roy Acuff, Woody Guthrie, the Weavers, Peter, Paul & Mary, Henry Mancini, Dolly Parton, David Allan Coe, John Fahey, Waylon Jennings, Tim Hardin, Buster Poindexter, Marianne Faithful, Tracy Chapman and Bob Dylan . . . just to name a few.

    Here from Lomax's book are the traditional lyrics :

    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.

    Did the House of the Rising Sun ever really exist? A guidebook called Offbeat New Orleans asserts that the real House of the Rising Sun was at 826-830 St. Louis St. between 1862 and 1874 and was purportedly named for its madam, Marianne LeSoleil Levant, whose surname translates to "The Rising Sun."

    But no one knows for certain. When the Animals made the song popular in the 60s, Eric Burdon was overwhelmed by the theories:

    "People would come up to me and say, ''You want to know where the real House of the Rising Sun is?' And I'd say, 'I've heard that one before.' Then I started going along for the ride. I'd go to women's prisons, coke dealers' houses, insane asylums, men's prisons, private parties. They just wanted to get me there."

    Then, with a laugh, he adds, "They're trying to build up tourism, and here's this Brit singing about a whorehouse."
    SukiDarkoon May 20, 2005   Link
  • +5
    My OpinionAll good writing can be taken on many levels....the literal as well as the figurative.
    "I'm going back to New Orleans, to wear that ball and chain!"
    Literally it could mean I am a convict being sent by train to a chain gang in Louisiana.
    Figuratively it could be about resuming an addiction to sex or alcohol or drugs, or even being married, "wearing a ball and chain" as others have suggested. That is one of the things that makes this song great.
    The listener reads in their own interpretation.
    LVMan777on February 13, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIts about a whore house. The guy is talking about how his father went there and got drunk, it was the only time he was happy. He is turning into his father.
    "And it's been the ruin of many a poor Boy,
    and God I know I'm one. "
    He doesn't want to go there, but feels that he will only be happy here. Or that something is calling his name and pulling on him to go there.

    "Oh mother, tell your children,
    Not to do what I have done.
    Spend your lives in sin and misery
    In the house of the Rising Sun. "
    He regrets going and being pulled in to this house to live a life where you are only happy drunk and with whores.So he says mothers don't let your child live my life..

    Its a great song.
    Danielle1987on March 27, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General Commentoops... the song is actually about a brothel (house of prostitution) in new orleans that had only been known in myths at the time the song was written.
    HubCap1438on April 23, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentNow doesn't the House of the Rising Sun sound anything like a Gambling house too? I'm avid poker player and when read the lyrics, "And the only time he'll be satisfied Is when he's on a drunk." I see that he plays poker all the time (maybe for a living) and when that drunk sits down he's a happy man because now he can make a living again. Hence "my father was a gambling man." I don't know for sure just my opinion.
    TheShillon April 29, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthe house of the rising has a certain specificity given that the writer says he's going to new orleans, but the concept seems like it's the kind of house in general that you do the nasty in (drugz, booze, secks, gamblin, etc) until the wee hours of the morning (i.e. when the sun rises).
    jtjackmanon June 07, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is a bad ass song but it even more bad ass when they play in at the end of casino you know were everybody is getting killed.
    edon April 30, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Now the only thing a gambler needs is
    A suitcase and a trunk.
    And the only time he'll be satisfied
    Is when he's on a drunk."

    I think the final line in the above verse should read "When he's on a TRUMP".
    Makes more sense, and I'm pretty sure that's what Burdon sings.
    If the Lomax lyrics quoted earlier in the thread are correctly transcribed, then it's understandable where the mistake has arisen, but I think it's wrong.

    googseyon March 03, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThis is taken from songs fact:

    Historians have not been able to definitively identify The House Of The Rising Sun, but here are the two most popular theories:

    1) The song 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.

    2) It's about a women's prison in New Orleans called the Orleans Parish women's prison, which had an entrance gate adorned with rising sun artwork. This would explain the "ball and chain" lyrics in the song.
    Elkabungoon August 02, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song was most likely written in the 18th century in England. Prostitution was a common practice then but was still viewed as a lowly profession. This could have possible driven the artist to write the song.

    At first listen the song is about someone’s life going wrong in New Orleans, but in England (where the song was thought to have originated) “house of the rising sun” is a euphemism for a brothel. So it could also be about a woman who ruins her life by becoming a prostitute, which would make sense because the song was originally written from the female perspective. The Animals recording of this song sounds like a warning to men, however about gambling and drugs.

    The song was wildly successful and went to number one in the UK, US, and Canada. It was number one for three weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song is widely considered a classic rock hit. It ranked number 122 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” It is also one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.” In 1999 the song received a Grammy Hall of Fame award and helped The Animals get inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Also to note, because of this song the main vocalist Eric Burdon was ranked 57th in Rolling Stones’ The 100 Greatest Singer of All Time list.

    According to the BBC’s Ralph McLean, The Animals version of the song changed modern music forever. While maybe not quite that, the song has made a pretty big impact. It has been featured in countless films and TV shows. It was the first song of the British Invasion (unrelated to the Beatles) to go number one in the US which really solidified the British Invasion as not just a Beatles thing. The song was featured in the recent hit movie Suicide Squad which helped introduce it to a whole new audience. It is also covered in a variety of singing competition shows, such as The Voice where it has been covered over 15 times.
    carleycarderon September 13, 2018   Link

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