Strange Acoustics: House of the Rising Sun

Many songs featured on a soundtrack are crafted to complement a film or tv show, but some have a history all their own. Although House of the Rising Sun is well known for for being featured in several movies and TV shows, the songs history goes much further back. The song’s writer is unknown, but some historians believe it bears a resemblance to a 17th century folk song. Allegedly familiar to miners in the early 190os, the oldest known publication of the songs lyrics are in an issue of Adventure Magazine in 1925. 

After that publication the song was recorded by over 14 different musicians ranging from Woody Guthrie, Nina Simone, and Bob Dylan. The songs biggest commercial success was The Animals in 1964, featuring altered lyrics, a dramatic opening guitar cord, and an organ. It was considered the first folk rock hit, and also the first British Invasion single not achieved by the Beetles. 

The song was featured in the movie Casino during a pivotal scene with with what I personally think is one of the best plot twists I’ve ever seen in a movie. It was later featured prominently in the Sons of Anarchy season four finale, were it was recorded by The white Buffalo with the  original lyrics from 1925. An instrumental version arranged by Ramon Djawadi was used in a prominent episode of Westworld.

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