The Animals

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Composed by Bennie Benjamin / G. Caldwell / Gloria Caldwell / S. Marcus / Sol Marcus

Song Review by

"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" was one of the biggest and best mid-1960s British Invasion hits by the Animals, with a sour melody and defiant lyrical stance well-suited for the group's image. Even today, however, relatively few people know that it's actually a cover of a song by acclaimed jazz/blues/pop singer Nina Simone. As first recorded by Simone, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" was a far different song, taken much slower and as an orchestrated blues-jazz-pop ballad. With a gripping descending minor melody, weepy background female singers, and a lead vocal that did not so much pout as resignedly brood, it would have been a worthy hit single. It wasn't, however, leaving the way for the Animals to cover it with a far different interpretation. The Animals' version is substantially different from the Simone original right from the intro, which has an almost dark carnival-like sequence of organ notes. The Animals retain but emphasize the stop-start rhythms of the original, and of course give it a much more rock-oriented arrangement with guitar and organ, dispensing wholly with orchestration. Also crucially, Eric Burdon's vocal is far more insouciant than Simone's, particularly when the band burst into the chorus. The chorus has an anthemic resonance, given greater weight by the Animals' backing vocals, dramatically lowering the temperature for Burdon to plead-state the title phrase before leading into the verse again. The bridge is nice too, as Burdon bridles with tension when he says he doesn't mean to be edgy and take it out his frustration on his woman, though he doesn't seem to be able to keep from doing so. Both the Simone and Animals versions have substantial merits, but ultimately the Animals' recording is more forceful and memorable.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Animal Tracks [UK] 1965 Toshiba 2:28
Animal Tracks [US] 1965 ABKCO Records 2:29
Most of the Animals [LP] 1966
The Best of the Animals [Abkco] 1966 ABKCO Records / Abko
Rip It to Shreds: Their Greatest Hits Live 1984 I.R.S. Records 5:30
The EP Collection 1988 See For Miles Records 2:39
The Complete Animals 1990 EMI Digital / Parlophone 2:25
The Sullivan Years: British Invasion 1990
Various Artists
TVT
Sounds of the Sixties: 20 Swinging Hits 1993
Various Artists
Telstar
House of the Rising Sun [BR Music] 1994 BR Music 2:29
The Singles Plus 1994 EMI Digital / Parlophone 2:25
Basic Original Hits 1995 Disky 2:29
The Best of the Animals [K-Tel] 1997 Dominion / K-Tel Distribution 3:58
Greatest Hits Live! 1997 Castle Music Ltd. 5:47
Perfect Day 1998
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:27
The Most of the Animals 1998 EMI Digital / Parlophone 2:25
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Disky
Best of the 60's 2000 Disky 2:28
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Disky 2:29
The Woodstock Generation: We Got to Have Peace 2001
Various Artists
Woodstock Records 2:28
Beat Boom 2001
Various Artists
Disky / Disky Communications 2:29
Blast from the Past: The Animals 2001 Direct Source 3:50
Animals, Vol. 2 2001 EMI Music Distribution 2:26
Complete Collection 2001
Various Artists
Disky 2:27
All-Time Greatest Hits [K-Tel] 2002 K-Tel Distribution 3:58
House of the Rising Sun [Brentwood] 2002 Time Music 3:50
Capital Gold 60's Legends 2002
Various Artists
Phantom Import Distribution
Up the Junction: 60 Original 1960's British Classics 2002
Various Artists
Disky 2:29
Totally 60's: The Essential 60's Beat Album 2002
Various Artists
EMI 2:28
Up the Junction [CD1] 2002
Various Artists
Disky 2:29
A's, B's & EP's 2003 Parlophone 2:25
Best Singles of All Time, Vol. 2 2003
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd.
Radio Caroline Calling 2003
Various Artists
Disky
Absolute Animals 1964-1968 2003 Raven 2:27
Rock Heroes [Eurotrend] 2003
Various Artists
Eurotrend 3:46
Elite: Rock 2003
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd.
Box of Rock 2003
Various Artists
Import 3:58
Simply the Best 60's 2003
Various Artists
Warner Music
Complete French EP 1964/1967 2003 Magic
Retrospective 2004 ABKCO Records 2:30
Best Sixties Party 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:25
Gunsight 2005 Akarma
The Ultra Selection 2005 Disky 2:29
The Best of the Sixties, Vol. 2 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:28
Hits and Rarities 2005 Disky 2:29
I Love Music 1965-1969: Good Vibrations 2005
Various Artists
Disky 2:29
Greatest Hits of the 60's 2006
Various Artists
Disky 2:27
The Animals [Odeon] 2006 Toshiba EMI
K-Tel Presents: The Animals 2006 Brentwood Records 3:53
30 Rock Heroes 2006
Various Artists
MCP
Animals Story 1964-1967 2007 Magic France
101 60's Hits [EMI] 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:25
Dick Clark's American Bandstand 50th Anniversary 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:28
Top Of The Pops 1965 2007
Various Artists
BBC Music / EMI 2:27
Dick Clark's American Bandstand, Vol. 3: Rock Around The Clock 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:28
Top of the Pops Collection [43 CD] 2008
Various Artists
EMI
This Is 1965 2008
Various Artists
EMD Int'l 2:28
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Sbm Records / Sony BMG 2:28
Lo Esencial de Jugo de Hits 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 2:23
Massive Hits! Sixties 2011
Various Artists
EMI / EMI Gold 2:27
The  Very Best of the Animals 2012 ABKCO Records 2:31
100 Hits: Swinging 60s 2012
Various Artists
100 Hits 2:30
The Mickie Most Years and More 2013 Real Gone Music 2:29
Beach Party RTL Georges Lang 2015
Various Artists
WEA 2:28
The Best Ever Sixties 2015
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 2:25
'60s: The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 2:25
100 Essential Tracks: 60's
Various Artists
Sony Music
100% Rolling Stone
Various Artists
Frequency Records
101 Sixties Party Hits
Various Artists
EMI 2:25
60 Hits of the 60's
Various Artists
Rhino
No Image
Various Artists
X5 4:12
No Image Rak
Best of British
Various Artists
Rhino
Box of Rock [Disc 3]
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd. 3:58
De Pre Historie: 1965, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eva 2:16
No Image
Various Artists
Parlophone 2:25
Peter Stuyvesant: Discover the World
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Rock Heroes, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eurotrend 3:46
No Image
Various Artists
Warner Bros.
The  Hits That Rocked the Airwaves
Various Artists
Universal 2:29
No Image Parlophone 2:25
No Image
Various Artists
Life Music / Time / Time Life / Time/Life Music 2:30
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