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Chasing the Rising Sun: The Journey of an American Song Hardcover – June 19, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743278984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743278980
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The song "House of the Rising Sun," which became a chart-topping hit in 1964 by the Animals, has a murky history, said to have originated in Appalachia, maybe New Orleans and perhaps even England, as well as having a thriving universal afterlife among cover bands and karaoke singers. Anthony, an editor for the Associated Press, crisscrossed the globe in search of the twisted roots and many spreading branches of this lonesome ballad of unknown origins. The song's ultimate odyssey began in 1937 when folklorist Alan Lomax recorded a version by 16-year-old Georgia Turner Connolly in Middlesboro, Ky. Lomax published the lyrics as "The Rising Sun Blues" and from there it grew in popularity and was performed and recorded by many, including Bob Dylan on his first record in 1962. The story seems promising, but Anthony's narrative is an uneasy mix of memoir, dissertation-like detail (with tedious repetitions of multiple versions of lyrics), journalistic feature writing and esoteric trivia. Anthony at times unconvincingly adopts the authoritative voice of an American studies expert, and he also lacks the musical or poetic knowledge to dissect the song. This exploration will be of most value to those who share Anthony's unbridled obsession with this ubiquitous ballad. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Depending on age and background, folk-music fans associate "The House of the Rising Sun" with Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Josh White, or Bob Dylan. Many more remember what some consider its definitive rendition, recorded by the sixties English rock band the Animals. Anthony travels to places throughout America and a few beyond its borders to uncover the song's origins for this musical detective story that is also in part straightforward music history. We meet early country-music stars Clarence Ashley and Charlie Poole, several record collectors, and renowned folk-song collector Alan Lomax, who also recorded early commercial versions of the song. Anthony even hunts down the harmonica player at the 1937 session in which 16-year-old Georgia Turner recorded the song for Lomax. Anthony's travels take him from Middlesboro, Kentucky, to Springfield, Missouri, and down to New Orleans, where the house ostensibly operated. Although Anthony's style veers from the poetic to the prosaic, the tale he tells remains fascinating, especially for enthusiasts of traditional songs, folklore, and folk music. Sawyers, June
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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At one point in "Chasing The Rising Sun", author Ted Anthony references "The Wizard of Oz".
G. Giovannetti
This book is a fine read for anyone interested in well-crafted creative non-fiction that is as artful -- and tuneful -- as its All-American subject matter.
ron P. swegman
I started playing bluegrass/folk music in 1962, when I was in college in Eastern Pennsylvania.
DC Blood

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By G. Giovannetti on June 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
At one point in "Chasing The Rising Sun", author Ted Anthony references "The Wizard of Oz". Considering the journey he himself undertakes to find the source of the song "House of the Rising Sun", the reference could not be more appropriate. Like Dorothy on her own quest for home, Mr. Anthony ranges far and wide to places he never knew existed, he encounters interesting characters along the way and he discovers that the journey has changed him as a person.

"Chasing The Rising Sun" is about much more than the search for a classic song's genesis. It's about the making of modern American values and culture. It's an examination of who we are as a people and how we got here. And it's a look at how we tell our stories now and throughout our history.

Sprinkled with humor, history and pathos, "Chasing The Rising Sun" not only brought Ted Anthony to new places. It just may do the same for you. Sure, "there's no place like home". But what has that home become?
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By BookSearcher on June 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
On the most basic level, this is a book about a song that all of us know. And it tells that story beautifully - of Georgia Turner, the Kentucky hill woman sang it around her house in the 1930s, of the cranky New Yorker who recorded her singing it, and of the many musicians who did their own versions. But it's also a look at how culture spreads, and one man's journey to follow that culture. It's a wonderful book. The section when the author meet's Turner's children - and plays her recording for them for the first time - is absolutely riveting.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By DC Blood on July 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book "Chasing The Rising Sun: Journey Of An American Song", authored by Ted Anthony, has really moved me in a mighty way. I started playing bluegrass/folk music in 1962, when I was in college in Eastern Pennsylvania. I know it is one of the first songs I tried to learn to play after I started playing guitar, mandolin, etc. The minor sounds of it were mysterious and alluring. And when I finally got it, I was thrilled. Most of the "folkie" bands of the period had their own version of HOTRS, and I guess Joan Baez's version was my favorite. So when I saw this book I knew I wanted it, just to take me back to the "good ole days". It did that and much more. It took me on a journey with the author and his lovely wife. It took me right along with them to Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky, Southwest Virginia, New Orleans, and many other locations, in search of the song's origins and carriers. Mr. Anthony did this in a sometimes humerous, sometimes educational, and always in a way that made me want to see where we and the song were going next. I couldn't put it down, and it made me feel I was right there meeting and talking with the artists and the mountain people who sent this mysterious song on it's journey from Appalachia to the world. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to go along with the author to discover what lies along the way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Q. Vogelschwein on August 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There is a book on Amazon
"Chasing the Rising Sun"
And it's been enriching for many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one

Anthony is the Author
he was a midnight oil burner
He drove around and researched hard
to tell the story of Georgia Turner

the only thing the reader needs
is Ted Anthony's book
He takes you with him on his journey
and permits you to take a look

------ organ solo ------

Oh mother, tell your children,
to do what I have done,
be touched by the characters the author meets
In "Chasing the Rising Sun"

The observations are profound
The variations of the song fascinating
There are so many great aspects of this book
I found myself vacillating

There is a book on Amazon
"Chasing the Rising Sun"
And it's been enriching for many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian K. Miller on October 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some things in life are truly iconic. They carry down through the centuries because they embody an essential lesson about the frailty of life, the fallibility of humanity, and the consequences of making the wrong choices. "House of the Rising Sun" is an old folksong that no one knows the original author of. It goes back to at least the 19th Century, and might even have been written in the early 18th Century. It has carried down through the ages and been covered by hundreds of performers in a variety of genres because it, like other universal icons, changes every life it touches. Contrary to some biased and unfounded disinformation spread by the drummer of the British band, "The Animals", "House of the Rising Sun" is also a uniquely American folksong originating in the still only semi-civilized mountain communities of the Deep South.

Chasing the Rising Sun: The Journey of an American Song is a masterpiece study of this song and its impact on American culture. No one, and I do mean absolutely no one, uses this level of scholarship in today's world. The book covers the earliest appearances of the song, the evolution of the song, the various theories about the origins of the song, and the archeaological survey of the obscure, "Rising Sun Hotel" (built around 1800, destroyed in a fire in 1822) that could very easily have been the original inspiration for the song.

The story of "The House of the Rising Sun" is the story of America. The song embodies our puritanical spirit, our inherent fallibility, and our continuing hope that the next generation will learn from our mistakes.
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