Tuesday, June 9, 2015

House of the Risin' Sun

Girl from poor family
Falls in with drunken gambler
And ruins her life.

I find it strange that I had to write an obscure haiku for such a well known song, but "House of the Rising Sun" never reveals the nature of its location. First, here are the lyrics as Dylan sang them on his debut album in 1962:

There is a house down in New Orleans they call the rising sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor girl and me, oh God, I'm one.

My mother was a tailor, she sowed these new blue jeans
My sweetheart was a gambler, Lord, down in New Orleans.

Now the only thing a gambler needs is a suitcase and a trunk
And the only time when he's satisfied is when he's on a drunk.

He fills his glasses up to the brim and he'll pass the cards around
And the only pleasure he gets out of life is rambling from town to town

Oh tell my baby sister not to do what I have done
But shun that house in New Orleans they call the rising sun.

Well with one foot on the platform and the other foot on the train
I'm going back to New Orleans to wear that ball and chain.

I'm going back to New Orleans, my race is almost run
I'm going back to end my life down in the rising sun.

There is a house in New Orleans they call the rising sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor girl and me, oh God, I'm one.

To me, it sounds like her boyfriend or husband was a gambler, most likely indebted, and that she became a prostitute to keep them solvent. But it could be anything. The song has been performed so many times by a so many people, with different lyrics, that it is unclear what the hell of the Rising Sun is.

The possibilities that I've read are:
- Brothel
- Prison
- Plantation slave pens/plantations/plantation houses
- Casino

I'm sure that there are others.



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