The Critics: ‘Chasing the Rising Sun’

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  06.22.07 | 7:19 AM ET


The Los Angeles Times has a review of Chasing the Rising Sun, writer Ted Anthony’s account of his quest to find the origins of the classic folk song, “House of the Rising Sun.” It’s a quest, in part, to learn where and what The House in question was: Brothel? Gambling house? Prison? In addition to being a book about music and history, it’s also about travel.

“[Anthony] chooses a mode of journalism that can also be best described as distinctly American: He gets in his car and drives,” writes critic Matthew Shaer. “He visits folklorists, collectors and musicians…He crosses Kentucky, Missouri and the Ozarks. He sits with Eric Burdon of the Animals in New Orleans, and he speaks with Pete Seeger, who once recorded ‘Rising Sun.’ He visits a karaoke joint in Thailand.”

Anthony’s quest turns out to be quixotic—the exact origins of the song and identity of The House remain unclear—and Shaer gives the book a mixed review.

As for the song itself, I give it five gold stars. Everyone I know loves the Animals’ version, but I’ve always preferred Dylan’s.

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