The first music, in general, that I remember loving and growing up with was from The Music Man — as in the movie with Robert Preston, which I would watch repeatedly, to the point of annoying my mother, when I was about four years old. But memory is a tricky thing, and a lot of the music that stuck with me until today, I don’t have memories of hearing until I was much older than my Music Man-watching age. But one of the first rock songs I remember hearing and loving, probably from the age of seven or eight, is “House of the Rising Sun.”
The Animals, “House of the Rising Sun” (download)
When I was younger, I had a really tiny keyboard piano. Really tiny. About the size of a modern laptop. It was difficult to actually play much on it, but when I had it, I didn’t really know how to play much of anything anyhow. Generally I’d just play a couple random notes, attempt composing (which usually meant coming up with four to 10 single notes in succession), or playing the presets. The presets were generally super irritatingly fast and happy numbers that sounded more like robots with ADD than anything musical. For whatever reasons, at some point my tastes began gravitating towards things that were a bit darker, a bit slower, a bit more somber — despite my early leanings towards musicals. In a case of what can only be some sort of musical destiny, the only pre-set tune that wasn’t extremely perky on this little toy piano was “House of the Rising Sun.”
What is “House of the Rising Sun” doing as a pre-set song on a little toy piano? Your guess is as good as mine. Because none of the other songs were rock songs, and the only pre-set that was a recognizable popular song was a classical piece, it didn’t occur to me that this was a “real” song. It wasn’t until someone referenced “House of the Rising Sun” in a movie that I learned that I didn’t have to run to my toy piano every time I wanted to hear it. But sometimes I still did anyway.