House of the Rising Sun

For many thousands of years women have turned to the oldest profession to survive. Women and girls continue to be trafficked all over the world, enduring much misery. I do not mean to minimize this, but the way various societies throughout history have handled the inescapable persistence of sex work is worth knowing about. The many songs about this topic are equally varied -- bold, regretful, rowdy, and often funny.

We visit ancient Rome, Renaissance Venice, Japan, Medieval Europe, and the United States, especially New Orleans, the setting for our title song. House of the Rising Sun was a most unlikely hit for a rock band in the 1960s. Other songs include:

Songs include:

- Weep Not, Mary, one of hundreds of anthems about Mary Magdalene. She was wrongly labeled a prostitute for centuries, but is now a saint. This one dates from 1236.

- Katy Cruel, from the time of the American Revolution, possibly about a camp follower.

- I'll Go No More a-Rovin', an adventure in 1800s Amsterdam.

- Hinky, Dinky, Parlez-Vous?, the classic from World War I about mademoiselles eager to help a soldier relax.

-Johnny Come Down to Hilo, a sea chantey praising the friendly gals of Hawaii.

- Fancy, a song by Bobby Gentry about a young woman who has overcome poverty and makes no apologies for her choices.

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"Thank you so much for one of the best programs we have ever had. Your narration about the songs was priceless, and your lovely voice a treat."

-- Joyce Hawkins, Sheffield Historical Society


InConcert