Searching for songs on Youtube for a totally different reason I stumbled across the many different versions of “House of the Rising Sun”. Most of you, including me, will know this song through the version of the Animals, who popularised this song in the 1960s. They did not write the song but their recording and arrangement made the song hugely successful in the 1960s.
For those of you who may not know the Animals version, here it is:
It is plain to see why guitarfans all around the world like this song: nice clean sound on the guitar, backed by a relaxed organsound and a great 6/8 beat on the drums. The overal sound not too different from an average Shadows song of the same period. The vocals? Nice and sharp and clear. Overal criticism for modern ears of today? Song is way too long! Yes I agree, but remember this is a folktale of someone who got on the wrong track sometime during his life.
Okay, let us now listen to Dylan’s version, which was also released during the 1960s, but is totally different in feel, closer to folk. His vocals start off semi-relaxed, in good, old, Dylan style, then he gets more intense and emotional. All of this makes up for a more interesting and musical delivery of this song.
Now let us listen to LeadBelly’s version, which is again, very different in feel and delivery: Voice very soulful with the guitar just creating the basic backdrop for the message of the song. Very different in feel compared to the Animals version.
Now here is Nina Simone’s version. Her version is closer to soul and jazz, her vocal delivery more intense and rhythmically very different from the Animals version.
Now listen to Jack White’s version, which is closer to the Animals version, but mixed up with all the ingredients which make up the White Stripes including very intense vocals and guitarsound.
Now here is Muse’s version, again closer to the Animals version but all dressed up with Muse’s very own guitartreatments.
What makes a good version? Think about the vocals, feel and arrangement of the song. Experiment with the delivery and you may even want to rearrange the lyrics a bit just to make them fit your own version.
Enjoy for now and hope to catch ya very soon!