This last week I was working on poetry with my students and one day we focused on writing a blues poem (poems that follow the traditional pattern of early blues music). To help them understand blues as a genre, we talked about how blues music developed into rhythm and blues which eventually influenced both hip-hop and early rock and roll. As inspiration, I was playing some blues music in the background for the class and Leadbelly's version of New Orleans (The Rising Sun Blues) came on. This got me to thinking about rock songs that were borrowed from the blues (and which probably many listeners never realize) and specifically The Animals' version of the song The House of the Rising Sun.
A little research over at Wikipedia revealed a wealth of knowledge about the song that I had not known. I did know that it was a traditional song with an unknown creator. One thing I didn't know was that House of the Rising Sun is a euphemism for a brothel (hence the above picture). Another fact I did not know was that besides being a hit for The Animals (which is the one most people are familiar with), it hit the U.S. pop chart again for the band Frijid Pink.
So anyway, without further ado, below are all of the versions that I could gather together. If you have one not listed here and are willing to share, feel free to send it my way and I'll add it (and only take 60% of the credit).
Leadbelly - New Orleans (The Rising Sun Blues) : The Tradition Masters
The Animals - House of the Rising Sun : House of the Rising Sun
Nina Simone - House of the Rising Sun : Live At the Village Gate
Cat Power - Wild Is The Wind/House Of The Rising Sun : Live Volksbohne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz - 11-9-06 (thanks to now defunct rbally)
The Beastie Boys - House of the Rising Sun : Live at CBGB's Nov. 20, 1982 (thanks to Berkeley Place)
The Be Good Tanyas - House of the Rising Sun : Chinatown
Courtney Love - House of the Rising Sun : Live 2004
Dan Bern - House of the Rising Sun : Live at Cafe Zapata (Berlin) on 2007-03-08
Radiators - House of the Rising Sun : Live at Trocaderos (Minneapolis, MN) on 2006-10-28Night Train - House of the Rising Sun : Live at Melinda's Club 52 (South Point, OH) on 2004-02-27
Addison Groove Project - House of the Rising Sun : Live at Paradise Rock Club (Boston, MA) on 2006-03-17
David Grisman, Jerry Garcia And Tony Rice - House of the Rising Sun : The Pizza Tapes
Woody Guthrie - House of the Rising Sun : The Original Folkways Recordings
Pete Seeger - House of the Rising Sun : American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 2