A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sunday Morning Post (V.3; #5) - An Unknown Icon (At Least to Me)

I never heard of Hilton Valentine until I heard he had passed away this past week.  He’s another person I am learning so much about after they are gone, but I know his work.  His obituary identifies him as a founding member of the British rock group The Animals.  And, yes, like most Americans, we associate the Animals with one recording: House of the Rising Sun.

And yes, it is his guitar riff at the beginning of this recording that people tend to remember more about anything else about him or the record.  The riff has become an iconic part of our western culture.  It's a somber entrance to a traditional folk song which sounds more like a funeral dirge than a recounting of a human being’s fall from grace.

I will offer it today for the memory of all the times we have heard the song played on the radio, and as a tribute to an artist about whom I knew so little. 

The song itself seems be relevant too in its own strange way.  Between the lies and delusion of the last four years, and the ongoing ups and downs of the pandemic, it feels like we’ve all been in the House of the Rising Sun for a long time.  Yes, the house may promise happiness, but it all leads to ruin in the end.

(Thank you for reading.  RIP, Hilton Valentine.)


Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

Yes, probably one of the most famous guitar riffs in recorded music! What a legacy!

January 31, 2021 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I had never heard of him, and now I will never forget him.


January 31, 2021 at 3:57 PM  
Blogger uptonking said...

It was ahead of its time and a part of its time. Dolly Parton, oddly, does a lovely version of it... Thanks for sharing. We've lost three great this week.

January 31, 2021 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Raybeard said...

I don't doubt that the vast majority of Brits like me who are familiar with the record never knew this chap's name until now.
Although the Animals [hailing from Tyneside, a mere 40 miles from where I grew up] had half a dozen quite memorable British Top 10-ers, it was 'House' that was the biggest worldwide and their only #1 here.
I had always assumed that this opening to the song had been written by their resident talented composer and keyboard player, Alan Price, who left the group and became an even bigger name than the Animals themselves. Now at this late stage I get to know.

February 1, 2021 at 1:43 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

True Debra, with the opening of (Can't Get No) Satisfaction a very close second.

Hi Bob. Same here.

I will have to look for the Dolly Parton version and give a listen. Thank you, Uptonking.

I'm familiar with some of their other songs, Raybeard. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and "Sky Pilot" come to mind.

February 2, 2021 at 8:19 PM  

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