In the early days of the British invasion, I was into the Animals almost as much as the Stones. For one thing, the song that really put their name out there couldn’t have been stronger; “House of the Rising Sun” was unlike anything else up to that point in time: an old folk tune that rocked. Bob Dylan got so excited when he first heard it he has said he jumped out of his car seat.
Plenty of others felt just as strongly about the Animals. Last year at the SxSW conference in Austin, Bruce Springsteen spoke of the Animals’ profound influence on him. “We Got to Get Out of This Place” he said, “That’s every song I’ve ever written—everything I’ve done for the past 40 years.”
Quite a self-effacing statement, really. It actually tells something about the narrow scope of Bruce’s vision as well as acknowledges the Animals’ impact on him. Good for Bruce for giving Eric his due.
That song grew to be wildly popular with Armed Forces in South Vietnam where it was sometimes known as the “Vietnam Antham.”
After making nine hit songs in two years, the band from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne was done. Having spent those two years performing on the road, they found out their earnings were embezzled and lost by their manager. Increasing self-abuse from drugs and alcohol didn’t help either.
For me, as the years rolled by, the Animals might’ve faded in glory but they never entirely left my head. But what’s nudged me to write about Eric Burdon at this time is because of what Eric has done lately.
Another birthday rolled around for me and I got something I truly wanted—Eric Burdon’s new CD Til Your River Runs Dry (2013). It’s a rocking, blues-based album. Been listening to it for a couple of weeks now. My favorite tune is “Bo Diddley Special,” where Eric memorializes his early hero and also follows up on the Animals’ “Story of Bo Diddley,” a talking blues I recall fondly. This CD is made to keep on the shelf and to take out for multiple listenings. (If you just download your music, you can still do the multiple listening part.)
Here’s a recent TV interview from the UK.