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"The House of the Rising Sun" is a folk song from the United States. Also called "House of the Rising Sun" or occasionally "Rising Sun Blues", it tells of a life gone wrong in New Orleans. Depending on the version, the song may be sung from the perspective of a woman or a man. The most successful version was recorded by the English rock group The Animals in 1964, which was a number one hit in the United Kingdom, United States, Sweden and Canada. The Animals' version was also a part of the soundtrack for the Martin Scorsese 1995 film Casino. The Animals had begun featuring their arrangement of "House of the Rising Sun" during a joint concert tour with Chuck Berry, using it as their closing number to differentiate themselves from acts which always closed with straight rockers. It got a tremendous reaction from the audience, convincing initially reluctant producer Mickie Most that it had hit potential, and between tour stops the group went to a small recording studio on Kingsway in London to capture it. Recorded in just one take on 18 May 1964, it started with a famous electric guitar A minor chord arpeggio by Hilton Valentine. The performance took off with Eric Burdon's lead vocal, which has been variously described as "howling", "soulful", and "deep and gravelly as the north-east English coal town of Newcastle that spawned him." Finally, Alan Price's pulsating organ part completed the sound (see Vox Continental). Burdon later said, "We were looking for a song that would grab people's attention," and they succeeded: "House of the Rising Sun" was a true trans-Atlantic hit, topping both the U.S. pop singles chart (in September 1964, when it became the first British Invasion number one unconnected with The Beatles) and the UK pop singles chart (two months earlier, in July of that year); it was the group's breakthrough hit in both countries and became their signature song. The song was also a hit in a number of other countries. The Animals' rendition of the song is recognized as one of the classics of the British Invasion. Writer Lester Bangs labeled it "a brilliant rearrangement" and "a new standard rendition of an old standard composition." It ranked number 122 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. It is also one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The RIAA placed it as number 240 on their Songs of the Century list. In 1999 it received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. And besides critical acclaim, it has long since become a staple of oldies and classic rock radio formats. A 2005 Five poll ranked it as Britons' fourth favourite number one song of all time. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.
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