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A Guide To Guitar Chords

House of the Rising Sun

House of the Rising Sun, an American folk song made famous by The Animals in 1964 (n°1 in the USA and the UK), is an easy guitar beginners tune that is fun to play.

The finger picking can be hard for beginning guitarists because the little finger is used to play the high e string, that's why I included 2 versions on this page: I start with the original version, followed by the easy version.

Hilton Valentine, the guitar player of the animals plays the song with a pick, I prefer finger picking myself. If you scroll down the page you'll find the lyrics and chords for House of the Rising Sun.

Here's a video from 1964 of The Animals playing House of the Rising Sun:

Here's the guitar chord chart for The House of the Rising Sun:

House of the Rising Sun guitar chord chart

Here's the sheet music with guitar tabs:

House of the rising sun guitar tabs


Here's the easy version, I simplified the finger picking to make it more playable for beginning guitarists:

House of the Rising Sun easy sheet music

The guitar chords and lyrics for House of the Rising Sun:

Am         C        D            F
There is a house in New Orleans

     Am       C      E
They call the Rising Sun

         Am       C       D           F
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy

    Am    E        Am   C     D     F     Am    E     Am    E
And God I know I'm one

   Am     C     D       F
My mother was a tailor

    Am       C        E
She sewed my new blue jeans

   Am     C     D        F
My father was a gamblin' man

Am      E     Am     C     D     F     Am    E     Am    E
Down in New Orleans

        Am   C       D       F
Now the only thing a gambler needs

     Am       C   E
Is a suitcase and trunk

        Am   C    D         F
And the only time he's satisfied

   Am        E    Am     C     D     F     Am    E     Am    E
Is when he's on a drunk

*** Organ Solo ***

   Am     C         D           F
Oh mother tell your children

       Am      C      E
Not to do what I have done

Am         C        D       F
Spend your lives in sin and misery

       Am           E      Am     C     D     F     Am    E     Am    E
In the House of the Rising Sun

            Am       C      D           F
Well, I got one foot on the platform

    Am         C      E
The other foot on the train

    Am    C       D   F
I'm goin' back to New Orleans

   Am        E        Am     C     D     F     Am    E     Am    E
To wear that ball and chain

      Am         C        D     F
Well, there is a house in New Orleans

     Am       C      E
They call the Rising Sun

         Am       C       D           F
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy

    Am    E        Am   C    D    F    Am    E    Am    F    Am    F...
And God I know I'm one

Some fun and not so fun facts about House of the Rising Sun:

  • The melody comes from an old English ballad, the lyrics are written by Georgia Turner and Bert Martin, two people from Kentucky.
  • 'House of the Rising Sun' is slang for brothel. This brothel is situated in New Orleans and was named after a certain Marianne Le Soleil Levant (Marian Rising Sun in French). Other sources say it is slang for a women's prison in New Orleans.
  • Bob Dylan nicked an arrangement of this tune for his first album (1962) from a guy called Dave van Ronk. Eric Burdon arranged Bob Dylan's version for his band, The Animals, and made it a hit. Bob was not too happy about that (how's that for karma?).
  • The Animals recorded House of the Rising Sun in one take.
  • It was the first time a rock rhythm was applied to a folk song.
  • The Animals' version of The House of the Rising Sun was the first number 1 hit over 4 minutes long.
  • They played it for the first time while touring with Chuck Berry. The public liked it so much that they recorded it between stops during the tour.
  • The arrangement credits are owned by Alan Price, the organ player of the band, all royalties go to him. Unnecessary to say that the other members of the band were not very happy with this.
  • The Animals was the first British band to have a n°1 hit in the States besides The Beatles since 1962. When they pushed The Beatles from their n°1 spot, The Animals got a telegram from them: 'Congratulations from the Beatles (a group)'.
  • The song has been played many times by people like Nina Simone, Tangerine Dream, U2, Green Day, John Williams, Muse, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Moody Blues, Joan Baez, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and Frigid Pink (and not Pink Floyd, a common misunderstanding).


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