House of the Rising Sun memorialized by The Animals’ guitar chord and organ music

by Deb Bartlett

Room 217’s British Invasion album features 16 tracks of soloists and bands from the U.K. that changed the North American music scene.  

The band that kicked it off on this side of the Atlantic was the Beatles in 1964. Their singles Let It Be and I Want to Hold Your Hand can be found on our Warm Breezes and Forever Love albums. 

Other bands that followed included The Rolling StonesHerman’s HermitsThe Kinks,  and The Zombies

In this post, we’re looking at House of the Rising Sun by The Animals.  

Wikipedia's entry on the song says in true folk ballad fashion, no one is sure who wrote it. The oldest know recording of it is from 1933, and many versions of it have been recorded since. Versions include one by Lead Belly’s wife (with him on guitar), Nina Simone, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Andy Griffith and Bob Dylan’s debut album.  

The song has been performed from a man's and woman's perspective, with the singer being either a gambler or a prostitute. House of the Rising Sun warns listeners of the trouble to be found, and advises people “not to do the things I’ve done.” 

The Animals' version sung from the point of view of a male gambler. The song is instantly recognizable by the guitar chord played as an arpeggio; Eric Burdon's gravelly voice, and the Vox Continental organ music are the final two components that make the song memorable.

The song is seen as revolutionary, as it is the first time a folk song was give the rock treatment.

Rolling Stone magazine lists House of the Rising Sun as the sixth most favourite song of the British Invasion. The song won the 1999 Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

You can learn more about Room 217's British Invasion album, and even listen to five samples, include House of the Rising Sun. Just scroll to the bottom of this page and take a listen.

British Invasion is one of six albums in Music Collection 4 - Boomer Tracks. Though the  albums are designed for use in hospice palliative care, they have many other applications.


Deb Bartlett is a journalist by profession, with a particular interest in the health and education beats. As Room 217’s Resource Lead, her experience as a writer lends valuable communication and networking expertise within the wide range of Room 217 customers and media relations.