Tag Archives: Sam Cohen

Daily Dose: ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ by Sam Cohen

This is absolutely stunning. Oh, it’s a great piece of source material, sure, and some will bristle at the suggestion that the animals version is not the definitive version, but these people are wrong, and this version is exceptionally strong. The song started out life as a classic folk ballad, (no-one knows who wrote it, although it’s been suggested that it was based on the tradition of broadside ballad, as well as bearing some resemblance to 16th century ballads), and it has been expertly returned to it’s original sad state by Sam Cohen, previously of the band Apollo Sunshine but these days of a variety of interesting and varied music projects. What popular songs can you think of that have more previous than this one? Woody Guthrie, among many numerous others, did a version, as have Joan Baez, Nina Simone, and Bob Dylan, and if that list of names doesn’t scare you then few things will. On top of that, it’s considered the first “folk-rock” hit, due to to aforementioned seminal version of Eric Burdon et al, which is something of a heady prestige. All in all, it’s an obvious classic in the truest sense of the world, and none of that matters to Cohen, who knocks it out the park with this mournful, sorrowful version. IT’s a sad song, after all, and it’s made truly tragic here with a bit of elegance and panache to complete the job. I can’t stop listening to it, and I think a few people are going to love it.

Edit: Alt-J (whose new song is fantastic) have just done a version of this song as well, but it’s not as good as this one.