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mardi 1 mars 2016

HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN



HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN/ Origines et Evolution du célèbre Folk Song

           
Quittons un moment le strict domaine du blues pour nous intéresser à un des plus célèbres folk song américain, House of The Rising Sun. Mais que les lecteurs de "Blue Eye" se rassurent, dans les musiques de l'Amérique profonde, le blues ou à tout le moins le feeling du blues ne sont jamais très loin!
            Si House of the Rising Sun est aujourd'hui un thème célèbre dans le monde entier et a engendré des centaines (!) de versions différentes et dans toutes les langues, cela na guère été le cas avant les années 1960. Il s'agit alors d'une ballade parmi d'autres et il faut attendre 1933 et Clarence Ashley pour en graver sur disque la première version. Ashley, originaire des Appalaches et que l'on redécouvrira dans les années 1960, avouera avoir appris cette chanson de son grand père mais en avoir retrouvé d'autres versions lors de ses années passées dans les spectacles itinérants sudistes, les medicine shows.
            On ne sait rien de sûr à propos des lointaines origines de cette chanson qui est, généralement, considérée comme la complainte d'une jeune fille séduite par un souteneur et amenée dans l'infâme maison close "Rising Sun" de la Nouvelle Orléans. Mais les versets (qui varient selon les versions, en tout cas jusque dans les années 1960) ne sont pas aussi clairs et peuvent aussi renvoyer à une prison pour femmes ("I got one foot on the platform, The other foot on the train/ I'm goin' back to New Orleans To wear that ball and chain"), voire un sanatorium! Comme toujours dans les folk songs américains, on leur trouve des réminiscences des Iles Britanniques (une vieille ballade anglaise du XVIIIème siècle mentionne "ask for The Rising Sun, there you'll find two old whores and my old woman's one") ainsi que des références en vieille France, la "nouvelle aube" stylisée par un soleil levant flamboyant étant le symbole de la rédemption et de la guérison, choisi par l'ordre des Ursulines fondé au XVème siècle et dont les couvents sont aussi toujours des hospices pour nécessiteux.
            
 Mais comme toujours aussi, les folk songs américains sont bien sûr... américains. On trouve à la Nouvelle Orléans plusieurs bâtiments qui peuvent correspondre au "Soleil Levant". D'abord, avec certitude, une maison close du Vieux Quartier, célèbre dans les années 1808-22 jusqu'à sa destruction par un incendie et qui abrite aujourd'hui le Musée Historique de La Nouvelle Orléans. Le Vieux Couvent des Ursulines, installé par les Français au XVIIIème siècle et, comme signalé, décoré de deux fresques représentant des Aubes flamboyantes, a été transformé en prison pour femmes à la fin du XIXème siècle. Enfin, une certaine Mme Marianne Le Soleil possédait une autre maison close dont les murs étaient ornés de fresques représentant des "Soleils Levants" (d'après bien sûr son nom) encadrés de trois Eros décochant leurs flèches. On a retrouvé ces fresques dans le bâtiment de Mme Le Soleil, aujourd'hui occupé par une agence immobilière!
            Quoi qu'il en soit, il est intéressant de retracer l'évolution de ce folk song à partir du premier enregistrement par Clarence Ashley en 1933. Il s'agit alors d'un blues à la façon "Hillbilly". Les Callahan Brothers et Roy Acuff qui ont connu le morceau par Ashley en donnent des versions similaires. Lomax enregistre une chanteuse amateur Georgia Turner qui interprète ce thème. Par Lomax, le morceau passe dans le répertoire des bluesmen et folk singers qui constituent alors la scène new-yorkaise, en particulier Josh White, Woody Guthrie et Lead Belly. Mais c'est l'actrice de théâtre et chanteuse Libby Holman (1904-71), une proche amie de Josh White, qui lui "emprunte" House of the Rising Sun et en enregistre une version de style cabaret de l'époque qui est un grand succès.
            House of the Rising Sun restera alors dans le répertoire presque obligé des folk singers New Yorkais, Weavers, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie et al. Mais c'est en fait Dave Van Ronk qui, au début des années 1960 (et bien que lui-même n'enregistre le morceau qu'en 1964) qui signe les arrangements que l'on connaît aujourd'hui. Et c'est Bob Dylan - qui loge chez Van Ronk - qui lui emprunte sa version et la fait figurer sur son premier album. C'est d'après Dylan que le groupe britannique les Animals font de House of The Rising Sun un succès planétaire!
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

            Let's leave (but not too far, don't be afraid!) the hardcore blues to study a little bit one of the most famous American folk song House of the Rising Sun with its hundreds of recordings in dozens languages!.
            In fact, before the 1960's, House of the Rising Sun was just a bluesy Old Time ballad among many others. It was only first recorded by Clarence Ashley in 1933. Ashley who was from Tennessee and was rediscovered during the 1960's Folk Boom told he learned this song from his grandfather and took it in his repertoire while touring around the South with a medicine show.
            The far origins of this song (generally sung from a young girl's speech who was seduced by a gambler and doomed to an infamous "Rising Sun" in New Orleans) are very uncertain. And the verses of the different early versions may refer to a brothel but also to a prison (I got one foot on the platform, The other foot on the train/ I'm goin' back to New Orleans To wear that ball and chain) or even a hospital. Like so very often, one can find British origins of the song: a XVIIIth Century English ballad has those verses: "ask for The Rising Sun, there you'll find two old whores and my old woman's one". Or French origins, the "new dawn with a flamboyant sun" being the symbol of medical redemption and healing provided by the Ursulines Convents since the XVth Century.
            But as always, the American Folk Songs are first and foremost... Americans. One find in New Orleans several buildings with a "Rising Sun" connection. First, a brothel situated in the French Quarter, very famous during the years 1808-1822 when a fire almost destroyed the building which is today the home of the Historic New Orleans Collection Museum. The old Ursulines' Convent created by the French during the early XVIIIth Century has become a prison for women at the end of the XIXth Century. And has still the original decorations of two Rising Sun mural paintings, common to this religious order. There is also an other brothel formerly owned by a certain Madam Marianne Le Soleil (Mrs The Sun!) whose walls were decorated with several Rising Suns (from the Madam's name) surrounded by three cherubs! This very building is occupied today by a real estate who kept the original paintings!
            Whatever, it is rewarding to follow the evolution of this folk song from the very first 1933 Clarence Ashley recording which was mostly a "Hillbilly blues". The Callahan Brothers and Roy Acuff have learned the song from Ashley and their renditions are close to the "original". In 1937, Lomax recorded the song by an amateur singer from Kentucky, Georgia Turner who might have learned the song from the records or from local singers. Anyway, with this version, House of the Rising Sun takes root among the numerous folk singers and bluesmen playing in the New York area: Weavers, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Josh White. But it's Libby Holman (1904-71) a cabaret singer and an actress, a close friend of Josh White who hit big with her version recorded in 1942.
            The today well known arrangements of the song have in fact been created by Dave Van Ronk during the early 1960's (although he didn't record it before 1964). Bob Dylan who was at that time living in Van Ronk's apartment borrowed him the song and recorded it on his very first album. The British band, The Animals took the Dylan/ Van Ronk version, electrifies it and enjoyed a huge commercial success throughout the world, then making the previous obscure The House of The Rising Sun one of the most recorded American Folk Song of all times!
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT



HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN

01. Clarence Ashley: Rising sun blues (1932)
02. Callahan Brothers: Rounder's luck (1934)
03. Georgia Turner: House of the Risin' Sun (1937)
04. Roy Acuff: The Rising Sun (1938)
05. Libby Holman: The house of the Rising Sun (1942)
06. Josh White: House of the Rising Sun (1944)
07. Lead Belly: House of the Rising Sun (1944)
08. Woody Guthrie: Rising Sun blues (1944)
09. Weavers: House of the Rising Sun (1959)
10. Joan Baez: House of the Rising Sun (1960)
11. Pete Seeger: House of the Rising Sun (1961)
12. Fred Gerlach: Risin' Sun (1962)
13. Bob: House of the Rising Sun (1962)
14. Nina Simone: House of the Rising Sun (1962)
15. Isla Cameron: The House of the Rising Sun (1962)
16. Karen James: The House of the Rising Sun (1962)
17. Roscoe Holcomb: House in New Orleans (1962)
18. Jack Elliott: House of the Rising Sun (1963)
19. Dave Van Ronk: House of the Rising Sun (1964)
20. Animals: The House of the Rising Sun (1964)
21. Doc Watson: Rising Sun blues (1964)
22. Supremes: House of the Rising Sun (1964)


22 commentaires:

  1. House of The Rising Sun

    http://www111.zippyshare.com/v/UZntqUZN/file.html

    OK?

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  2. Thanks for this fine collection, Gerard. And special thanks for the excellent information included. My first hearing was courtesy of "Bob" in about 1963. All good wishes.

    Iggy

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  3. A very interesting idea, an interesting collection, and an interesting diversion from the usual collections posted here.

    What is also interesting (to me) is I have never heard of the singer Isla Cameron, but my family is connected to the Cameron clan, my sister's name is Isla, and I had an aunt named Isla Cameron. So it's highly possible that the Isla Cameron listed here is related to me.

    As always many thanks Gerard.

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    Réponses
    1. Thanks, Bob Mac. For more info about your kinfolk, go to: http://media.smithsonianfolkways.org/liner_notes/folkways/FW09890.pdf

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  4. Thanks a lot for this "diversion" from
    blues-blues. A great effort must have
    been taken fo this comp. BTW, track 13
    is Bob Dylan??
    Cheers gratefully, Daniel, from Spain...

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    Réponses
    1. Thanks. Of course, there is only one Bob when it comes to 1960's real folk songs!

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  5. Merci pour tout M. Herzhaft.
    La version française de Johnny Hallyday est particulièrement bien ressentie tant du point de vue texte que du point de vue interprétation.La version des Animals est par contre un véritable chef-d'oeuvre.

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  6. Perhaps one of my least favorite 45's from the 60's that got played to death on the radio, at parties and has endured ever since to haunt me. But a trip through the history of this tune will be very interesting and I hope it might change the way I look at it. Many thanks Gerard

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    Réponses
    1. Thanks Xyros. I guess you'll find many excellent versions of that song here!

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  7. Great idea and thanks for this compilation of different interpreters through the decades. Could also interesting to do something like this with the song "St. James Infirmary".

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  8. Gerard

    Fantastic idea. I really enjoy this kind of listening! Is the Dylan version the acoustic or the one with electric instruments overdubbed?

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    Réponses
    1. Thanks Steve626. I don't understand your question. Dylan's version is track 13 of course. I don't hear electric instruments overdubbed anywhere?

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  9. Hi Gerard, Steve626 is referring to the electric overdubbed version of Bob's 1962 recording of House Of The Rising Sun, which was done by Tom Wilson in 1964. It's a very rare track that has cropped up on some of the early Dylan boots.

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    Réponses
    1. Thanks, Bob Mac. I didn't know this version. I'm pretty sure The Animals didn't know either and they were inspired by the acoustic version which is featured on the first Bob Dylan LP.

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    2. It was officially released as well, on the "Highway 61 Interactive" CDRom from 1995.

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  10. Intéressant de voir comment une chanson fait son chemin a travers le temps , pour moi celle ci est la première que j'ai appris avec plus que 3 accords à la guitare . C"est un nouveau cadeau que vous nous offrez , MERCI !

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  11. Hi Gerard, here's a link so you can have a listen:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F-IKXWVK24

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  12. Thanks as always for your attention to detail Gerard! By the way of song synchronicity the day before your blog came out with this I was having dinner with my 14 year old daughter and the Animals version came on in a restaurant we were eating in. She remarked that she liked the song and wondered about the artist/origins. I mentioned the Georgia Turner etc and lo and behold the next day your compendium.....talk about timing. Thanks again, DrHepcat

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  13. Une version bien peu connue par cette grande chanteuse japonaise de blues maintenant disparue : Maki Asakawa
    Emotion

    http://www.mediafire.com/download/psylu52ufns5ds8/Asahi_No_Ataru_Ie__%28House_Of_The_Rising_Sun%29.mp3.zip

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  14. Salut Gerard!

    Know French but English is easier. Been following your Blog for awhile & really enjoy the music you research & share. This comp. is quite interesting as Animals' version was a song 1st heard as being "introduced" to various musical sounds/styles (mostly Brit. Invasion, Merseybeat, Blues & R&B to start). Was a member of The Toronto Blues Society in 80's. Continue to expand musical "knowledge" & collection since late 70's. Thanks again for your additions.

    Cheers!

    Ciao! For now.
    rntcj

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