But what a choice for a 3-4-5 grade class. And what a conversation it engendered. We always like a learning opportunity over here at the House of Figs!
Mama: Do you know what the song is about?Sophie: Um, no. I just really like it.Mama: The House of the Rising Sun is a house of prostitution. That's where men pay women to have sex with them.* Did [the music teacher] explain that to you?Sophie: No, he just said it was a symbol for something that was sad.Mama: Well, that is usually a sad life for women.
We talked about why women end up making a living that way, especially back when the song was written (1933): poverty, lack of education, abuse. "See how bad things were when men ran the world??" [And of course, they still are in many places.] And why that was often a sad life: no family, social marginalization, bad diseases.
So why, she asked, is the house named after the rising sun? Good question! Because the men have stayed up so late drinking, having sex, and gambling that when they finally leave, there's the sun rising for the next day. Not that I would know anything about that.
And why did he go back to that house (to wear that ball and chain)? Because men are WEAK! And apparently sometimes not very smart. I mean, really. If a song has lyrics that you cannot explain without getting yourself into potential trouble with parents, PICK ANOTHER SONG.
But once we cleared up all those details, we had a rockin good time listening to all the covers of this song on youtube. We like The Animals version the most. The Pink Floyd one was good too. Sophie wanted to know if something was wrong with Bob Dylan.
Look! Here's the karaoke version of The Animals. You can sing along too! Sophie and I used pencils for microphones. It is important that this song be sung at the top of one's lungs.
Of course we then had to talk about why they are wearing suits.
* We also talked about how parents have different ideas about what and when children need to know about sex. But most parents agree that their kids should hear about it from them, not from some kid at school. She understands I would prefer it if she did not advertise this knowledge on the playground. I told her it's fine to tell the principal she knows what's up.