Celtic Thunder Performs “House Of The Rising Sun”

It may seem odd to hear Celtic Thunder perform “House of the Rising Son.” After all, Celtic Thunder is an uber Irish group of singers, and “House of the Rising Son” is a song about a misspent youth down in New Orleans. 

It doesn’t seem to fit at first. However, once handsome Ryan Kelly with his intense blue eyes, dark hair, and gleaming white teeth opens his mouth, it’s an easy adjustment to make!

In truth, “House of the Rising Sun” is a song with an interesting past. It has been around a long time, its roots possibly even going back to 16-century England. It has been sung from both a female and a male perspective. There is no known author. But, the most successful recording of the song—and there are many—is the 1964 recording by the British rock band, The Animals.  

The first verse goes as follows:

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

Ryan moves about on the stage, shaped like a Celtic cross, in a precise fashion. Celtic Thunder is known for its theatrical performances, which include elaborate sets, visual effects, and technical choreography. Ryan is one of four current vocalists, and the Celtic Thunder Band backs him in this performance from Dublin. 

As he sings “I’m one” at the end of the first verse at about 43 seconds, the musicians on the bass and violin end their notes with drama. His expressions communicate anger when he sings the words “satisfied” and “drunk” starting at about 1:30. 

In the background, we see large drawings of buildings and scantily clad women that look to be prostitutes. That’s one theory as to what exactly “the house” in the song refers to. It might be a tavern, gambling hall, a prison, a brothel, or a variety of other places. 

In any case, it’s a place that caused a young man to go astray and ruin his life. And as Ryan begins the third verse, he (as the broken young man) implores mommas to watch out for their children. Again, Ryan sings “misery” with passion, opens his arms wide as if surrendering to “the house” that has caused so much pain, and a kilt-wearing soloist comes on stage with an electric guitar. 

The last verse and the chorus follow. Ryan, in black, finishes the dark and tragic tale in a most powerful way. So often, we hear songs without really absorbing the lyrics. Celtic Thunder’s performance makes it impossible to miss the message!

It really is a stirring rendering of the song. If you want to explore the history of “The House of the Rising Sun,” check out this interesting look at the mysterious refrain.          

“But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Luke 15:32

Source: Celtic Thunder

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