The Animals

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

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 EP Collection 1988 See For Miles Records 2:39
The Complete Animals 1990 EMI Music Distribution 2:30
Sounds of the Sixties: 20 Swinging Hits 1993
Various Artists
Telstar
The Singles Plus 1994 BR Music 2:28
Basic Original Hits 1995 Disky 2:29
The Most of the Animals 1998 Raven 2:30
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Disky
The Best of the Animals [EMI] 2000 EMI Music Distribution 2:28
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
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 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) / Brentwood Records 3:51
Up the Junction: 60 Original 1960's British Classics 2002
Various Artists
Disky 2:29
Up the Junction [CD1] 2002
Various Artists
Disky 2:29
A's, B's & EP's 2003 EMI Music Distribution 2:13
Absolute Animals 1964-1968 2003 Raven 2:27
Rock Heroes [Eurotrend] 2003
Various Artists
Eurotrend 3:46
Box of Rock 2003
Various Artists
Import 3:58
Greatest Hits of the 60's 2006
Various Artists
Disky 2:27
101 60's Hits [EMI] 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:25
Top Of The Pops 1965 2007
Various Artists
BBC Music / EMI 2:27
This Is 1965 2008
Various Artists
EMD Int'l 2:28
Massive Hits! Sixties 2011
Various Artists
EMI / EMI Gold 2:27
The Best Ever Sixties 2015
Various Artists
Rhino
'60s: The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 2:27
No Image Rak
Box of Rock [Disc 3]
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd. 3:58
No Image
Various Artists
Rock Heroes, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eurotrend 3:46
Sixties [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino 2:27
The Hits That Rocked the Airwaves
Various Artists
Universal 2:29
Time Life Presents the 60s
Various Artists
Time Life 2:30