Song of the Day #39: ‘House of the Risin’ Sun’ – Bob Dylan

How do you pick just one Bob Dylan song for a series like this? I have 352 of them in my iTunes library and could probably make an argument for most.

Do I go for a track off one of his trifecta of masterworks from 1965-66 (Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde)? Imagine that… Bob Dylan put out those three albums in two years! Most artists would give their first born to put out three albums half as good over a lifetime.

Do I pull one of the classics from 1975’s Blood on the Tracks, the greatest breakup album ever made and probably my favorite Dylan record? Or perhaps one of the seminal folk songs on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, his first album of original material?

It’s also tempting to look at his resurgence over the past decade, when he’s put out three straight albums (Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft and Modern Times) that rival anything he produced in his heyday.

Yes, the Dylan catalog is an embarassment of riches that makes this task close to impossible. So I’ve decided to go all the way back to his very first release (Bob Dylan), an album of cover songs that introduced a 21-year old future legend to the world.

His ‘House of the Risin’ Sun’ is a masterwork of barely controlled rage and sorrow and a very early sign of the genius to come.

Note: I write these posts a week or so in advance, so I had no idea this song about New Orleans would be featured on the day Hurricane Gustav comes ashore in Louisiana. Hope everything turns out OK in the Big Easy and the rest of the Gulf Coast.

11 thoughts on “Song of the Day #39: ‘House of the Risin’ Sun’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Dana says:

    I hadn’t heard his version of this before. Very good.

  2. Amy says:

    Out of all the songs you could have chosen that would have surprised me, none surprises me more than a Bob Dylan song not written by Bob Dylan! After all, his genius was cemented due to his songwriting magic more than his singing voice or even his overall style. Still, I do love this version and find it particularly fitting and moving to be listening to it, as I will, with every non-religious bone in my body, Gustav to go gently over that good city. But I do request another Dylan pick 🙂 and this time it must be a song he wrote.

  3. Clay says:

    Eventually I’ll get around to repeat artists, and Dylan will surely be among them.

  4. Amy says:

    Why not make Dylan a theme week? As your post indicates, you have more than enough songs from which to pick.

  5. Clay says:

    That might just be in the works.

    First you spoil my Moulin Rouge and Once picks, now this… Sheesh. 🙂

  6. Amy says:

    🙂 at least i’m posting comments on a blog other than “Sarah Palin… Really?” That ought to be worth something 🙂

  7. Amy says:

    So can I further spoil by suggesting some Dylan favorites? Tangled Up in Blue? Positively 4th Street? The Times They are a Changin? Just Like a Woman? Along with whatever lesser known gems you’re sure to choose, of course. Thanks in advance for considering some of my favorite Dylan tunes.

  8. Clay says:

    Now they’re off the list! I must retain the element of surprise…

  9. Amy says:

    😛 Surprise is overrated. Just ask Bristol Palin.

  10. Clay says:

    And you never did chime in on Before Sunset, another pick you telegraphed.

  11. Amy says:

    Well you had me a bit flummoxed with all the Palin pontificating (that was an alliterative stretch, I know). I’ll turn my attention to Ms. Delpy sooner or later. Promise.

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