"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.