Monday, May 11, 2009

Vietnam: We Gotta Get Out Of... The House

Eric Burdon: 

We gotta get out of this place!/If it's the last thing we ever do/We gotta get out of this place/Cause girl, there's a better life... for me and you. (Music/Lyrics by: Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil.)

The Animals greatest hit is, The House Of The Rising Sun, with many local bands playing it repeatedly in the various nightspots all over Singapore. Eric Burdon was in Singapore a couple of years ago and was still singing his whopper.

The House of the Rising Sun is a traditional folk song, sometimes called Rising Sun Blues. It tells of a life gone wrong in New Orleans, many versions also urge a sibling to avoid the same fate. The most successful commercial version, recorded in 1964 by the British rock group The Animals, was a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart and also in the United States and Canada. The song has been described as the "first folk-rock hit.

Reaching top of UK pop singles chart in July 1964. It topped the U.S. pop singles, breezed into August and chart two months later, on 5 September 1964, where it stayed for three weeks: 

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.

(Image: The Animals: Vietnam War -"We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" - 1965)

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