House of the Rising Sun - Chords, Lyrics and Origins


Many people know 'House of the Rising Sun' from the famous (and very good) sixties recording by The Animals. The famous start with flat-picked chords on electric guitar, the emblematic organ solo and Eric Burdon's powerful vocal performance. The first known recording of the song, however, dates back to the 1930s, and in fact it may well have been based on the traditional English song, 'Matty Groves'. 'House of the Rising Sun' has been recorded in a folk idiom by both Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, amongst others. This version uses the same chord progression as the animals' version, but the arrangement is much more folky. Incidentally, the Animals' version is in A minor. I have put capo on my guitar at the seventh fret, which changes the key to E minor. But obviously you can experiment with the postion of the capo to find a key that works for you.

This is actually the first song that I learned to play on the guitar, so the chord progression is pretty much ingrained in my memory. For any beginner, mastering this song is a great way to learn a whole bunch of chords that you are likely to use again and again as a guitarist - the chords of A minor, C, D and E7 are all staples of the rhythm guitarist's trade.


           Am C             D          F9
There is a house in New Orleans

          Am       C          E7
They call the Rising Sun,

              Am          C           D                   F9
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy,

        Am     E7             Am
And lord I know I'm one.



There is a house in New Orleans

They call the Rising Sun

And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy

And Lord I know I'm one.


My mother was a tailor.

She sowed my new blue jeans.

My father was a gambling man,

Down in New Orleans.


Now the only thing a gambler needs

Is a suitcase and a trunk,

And the only time he is satisfied

Is when he's on a drunk.


So mother, tell your children

Not to do what I have done

And live your lives in sin and misery

In the house of the Rising Sun.


I've got one foot on the platform;

The other is on the train,

And I'm going 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

And Lord I know I'm one.



Traditional, arranged by Peter Webster.

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