What does The House Of The Rising Sun mean?

Search Login

Animals: The House Of The Rising Sun Meaning

Song Released: 1964

The House Of The Rising Sun Lyrics

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one

My mother was a tailor
She sewed my new bluejeans
My father was a gamblin' man
Down in New Orleans


  1. JJJ
    click a star to vote
    Jan 16th report

    I heard the singer's problem was that he caught syphilis at the whore house and was dying. Not so much the gambling or excessive alcohol. In any case, it is such a powerful, emotional, and disturbing song.

  2. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 9th 2020 report

    For me, this song is all about sex addiction.
    In the first verse the singer describes the "house" known as a brothel - being the ruin of many a poor boy, himself being one.

    The second and third verses are of the singer describing his home life and the exploits of his father being a gambling man, whilst his mother tried to make good the family home.

    The fourth verse refers to a warning to all others out there not to follow this path and to live a life of misery.

    Verse five is the most prominent in all the song. It describes the singer as being torn, hence having one foot on the platform whilst the other is on the train - he knows he is helpless against this addiction and yet is trying not to go back there, but he knows he will end up doing that and "wearing the ball and chain" which is the weight of the addiction.

    The final verse is simply a repeat of the first verse and is important as it basically refers to the fact that his life is going round in constants loops - run entirely by the helpless sexual addiction.

    It is a great song, and one which is very close to my heart.

  3. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 17th 2020 report

    I am wondering about the meaning of that metaphor of one foot on the platform and the other one on the train...

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 29th 2019 report

    It's about a poor bad boy going back to prison, The prison is the House of the Rising Sun.He had done some really bad things in life and he knows he is going back to that Ball & Chains in the House of the Rising Sun.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 4th 2018 report

    I heard it was a opium den (house)

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 30th 2018 report

    Perhaps it is both. It could be a Casino and a brothel. Gambling in those days included everthing a person wanted. Saloons had dancing girls until they walked up the stairs to the girls room. There were only 2 rules pay me and do not even try to kiss me dude!!!!

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 13th 2018 report

    My interpretation of this song is where heroin addicts would go shoot up. They would be there all night until the sunrise.

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 1st 2017 report

    His father sold him into prostitution for gambling money. Men liked boys back then too. The ruin of many a poor boy.

  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 26th 2015 report

    My class studied this song while analyzing ballads and my take is that essentially, it is a brothel. Many brothels often will have the front of a casino or bar to hide the business of prostitution. The "house" causes the singer great misery and he even says it's a house of sin. Most people would automatically think of prostitution, especially since it's the place that's "been a ruin" to many boys, not men. One can infer that innocence is being taken since he refers to them as boys, rather than men. Interestingly enough, the House of the Rising Sun is also referred to in "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" as being the place where the devil resides. Great song nonetheless.

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 7th 2014 report

    I think it could be about his home. His father being a gambler and a drunkard and his mother not making much money. It's a bout a bad home environment which drags him down and gets him mixed up in addictions and home problems. It is not a happy song, but it's a warning. And a hopeful song, the hope is that one day he will be a new man and not a drunken gambler.

  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 10th 2013 report

    I agree with the rehab clinic. "Rising Sun" sounds like a place of hope and recovery. It's not a brothel or a casino. I think the confusion comes from taking the lyrics too literally. "And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy... and God I know I'm one" seems to refer to the House of the Rising Sun, but I think it actually refers to his addiction. It's poetic license to phrase something not in a logical way but in a way that fits the song and carries the most emotional punch.

  12. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 9th 2013 report

    Our interpretation of the song is that the protagonist is a gambling man and the "House Of The Rising Sun" a Casino in New Orleans. In the song he tells about his father being a gambling addict so maybe he adapted his father's behavior. Also the house "has been the ruin of many a poor boy" would rather speak for a Casino than a brothel. Furthermore, his father went to New Orleans for gambling he goes to New Orleans later on as well. Yet, he still tries to fight his bad habit and warns others not to become like him.

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 4th 2013 report

    it is a whore house...yes a house of whores.

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 14th 2013 report

    this song is about a negro man who builds his house with the hard earned money that he made working as a farm hand picking cotton in the fields down in new orleans. all his peers spend thier pay freely and drink and smoke and gamble the money away.
    when the negro man finaly sells the house that he built, the sheriff arrest him (for tax evasion) and he goes off to the state prison to where his ball and chain.
    "so mothers tell your children not to do as i have done, spend all your life in sin and misery in the house of the rising sun"

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  15. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 22nd 2012 report

    My take is that the House of the Rising Sun is something like a rehab clinic. I know this is a very old song, and I think that a rehab clinic (it wouldn't have been called that in the 30's say) would have been more like a prison or halfway house. It's a young person battling addiction. His family was disfunctional mainly because his father wasn't around (traveling, gambling and drinking instead of supporting his wife and kids). The most telling line is "one foot on the platform, the other foot on the train" which shows the struggle of addiction. Should he fight it or just give in to it? He's going back to N.O. (the House of the Rising Sun, the place of hope) to wear that ball and chain (to fight his/her inner demons and it won't be easy, it's like losing your freedom to try to get your life back).

‹ prev 12

More Animals song meanings »


Submit Your Interpretation

[ want a different song? ]

Get a weekly email update

(We won't give out your email)

Latest Releases

We Wouldn't Be Us
Alexandra Kay
Better Than You’re Used To
Tyler Rich
I Can't
Caitlyn Smith
Best Parts Of Me
Will Dempsey
Nathaniel Rateliff
To Be Loved By You
Parker McCollum
Cover Me In Sunshine
Charlotte Cardin