Category Archives: John Otway

Indigo extras: The House of the Rising Sun (parts 1 and 2)

Two versions of this well-known song appear as hidden ‘bonus tracks’ on the 52 Folk Songs – Indigo virtual album.

The House of the Rising Sun (part 1) takes off from Dave Van Ronk’s uniquely chilling version of the song. It’s interesting to check out older recordings of this song; they often seem positively cheerful, jaunty even. Not Dave Van Ronk’s rendition, which vividly evokes the dying girl’s last gasps over an ominous descending bassline. It’s really quite good. This version started as a straightish take on that version of the song, but then grew: it features quite a lot of melodica and some double-tracked vocals, and begins with a drum solo (I like to think of this track as my “Moving away from the pulsebeat”). Augustus Pablo and the Burundi drummers jamming with Faust would probably sound nothing like this.

As for The House of the Rising Sun (part 2), this is my take on a version of the song that John Otway did when I saw him live some years ago. The great man had spotted that the leisurely pace of the song (in its post-Animals form) left large gaps between successive lines – gaps that seemed designed to permit feeds from the audience:

There is a house in New Orleans
What’s it called?
It’s called the Rising Sun…

I don’t think I’ve seen anything funnier in my life. (Perhaps you had to be there.)

On this version, I played no instruments and didn’t sing all the vocals.

These two tracks are not now available for listening online; they can only be heard as part of a download of the 52 Folk Songs – Indigo album.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dave Van Ronk, folk song, Indigo, John Otway, traditional