“The House of the Rising Sun”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1933 (recording, Ashley & Foster)
Keywords: whore lament gambling drink husband father mother
Found in: US(So)


The singer laments, "There is a house in New Orleans / They call the Rising Sun / It's been the ruin of many a poor girl / And me, O God, I'm one." She tells of her troubled childhood, laments that she cannot escape her life, and warns others against it


Legman offers extensive, if rambling, notes in Randolph-Legman I. - EC

While this song is generally associated in the public mind with African-American tradition, it clearly circulated in the Anglo-American community extensively; Clarence Ashley said he learned it from his grandmother. - PJS

Tex Alexander in 1928 recorded a song with the "Rising Sun" title, which we took for a time to be the earliest reference. But Mark R. Fletcher sends me information making it clear that this is a different piece with the same name. - RBW



  1. Randolph-Legman I, pp. 250-253, "The House of the Rising Sun" (5 texts, 1 tune)
  2. Lomax-FSNA 151, "The Rising Sun Blues" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. PSeeger-AFB, p. 18, "House Of The Rising Sun" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Silber-FSWB, p. 184, "House Of The Rising Sun" (1 text)
  6. Roud #6393
  7. BI, RL250