Animals – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

This song peaked at #15 in the Billboard 100 and #3 in the UK in 1965. The Animals were a tough Rhythm and Blues band formed in Newcastle upon Tyne. Burdon’s voice drives this Animals song.

This song was written by Horace Ott, Bennie Benjamin, and Sol Marcus. Benjamin and Marcus were a songwriting team that had been working together since the 40s… their songs include “Lonely Man” by Elvis Presley and “Fabulous Character” by Sarah Vaughan.

Ott started writing the song after getting in a heated argument with Gloria Caldwell, whom he had recently married. Sitting down at the piano, he expressed in song how he was well-intentioned, but misunderstood by his wife – a sentiment many married men could relate to.

Gloria Caldwell is listed on the credit instead of Ott because of contractual issues. She learned to understand him: the couple stayed together.

The Animals were one of the British Invasion bands…One of the rawer and bluesy bands.

From Songfacts

Nina Simone was the first to record this song, releasing an orchestrated, downtempo rendition on her 1964 album Broadway-Blues-Ballads that nicked the US chart at #131. The best-known version is by The Animals, who reworked it into a rock song. Eric Burdon recalled in Rolling Stone magazine, “It was never considered pop material, but it somehow got passed on to us and we fell in love with it immediately.”

In our 2010 interview with Eric Burdon, he said: “I’ve really been misunderstood. By my mom, my dad, school teachers, a couple of the women that I married. I’ve been misunderstood all of my life.”

In 2013, Eric Burdon recorded a new version of this song with Jenny Lewis for the HBO TV series True Blood. “When I was asked to record a new version of ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ for the new season with Jenny Lewis, I had to bite,” Burdon said of recording the song for the vampire drama. The song was included on Volume 4 of the show’s soundtrack.

Other well-known versions include covers by:

Joe Cocker, who covered this on his 1969 debut album, With a Little Help from My Friends. His version was played over the ending credits of the 2004 film Layer Cake.

Disco group Santa Esmeralda’s 1977 dance version, which incorporated flamenco, salsa, and other Latin rhythm and ornamentation elements. Released as a single it reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song’s instrumental passage was later used by Quentin Tarantino during the duel between The Bride and O-Ren Ishii in his 2003 movie Kill Bill: Volume 1

Lana Del Rey, who covered this for her 2015 Honeymoon album. Her version is in the vein of Nina Simone’s jazz original but also uses The Animals organ sound. Del Rey had previous covered another Nina Simone song “The Other Woman” for her Ultraviolence album. The “Video Games” singer told NME she is drawn to Simone’s “melodies and words.” “Personality-wise we’re quite different,” she added. “We may have had some of the same issues, but I picked that song simply because it resonated with me.”

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Baby, do you understand me now?
Sometimes I feel a little mad
But don’t you know that no one alive can always be an angel
When things go wrong I feel real bad.

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

Baby, sometimes I’m so carefree
With a joy that’s hard to hide
And sometimes it seems that, all I have to do is worry
And then you’re bound to see my other side

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

If I seem edgy, I want you to know,
That I never mean to take it out on you
Life has its problems, and I get my share,
And that’s one thing I never mean to do

Cause I love you,
Oh,

Oh, oh, oh, baby – don’t you know I’m human
I have thoughts like any other one
Sometimes I find myself, Lord, regretting
Some foolish thing, some little simple thing I’ve done

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
Yes, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
Yes, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

Yes, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good

Animals – House of the Rising Sun

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, and #1 in the Uk in 1964. This song was my introduction to the Animals sometime in the 1980s. Love the organ and Eric Burden’s voice in this.

Historians have not been able to definitively identify The House Of The Rising Sun, but here are the two most popular theories:

1) The song is about a brothel in New Orleans. “The House Of The Rising Sun” was named after its occupant Madame Marianne LeSoleil Levant (which means “Rising Sun” in French) and was open for business from 1862 (occupation by Union troops) until 1874, when it was closed due to complaints by neighbors. It was located at 826-830 St. Louis St.

2) It’s about a women’s prison in New Orleans called the Orleans Parish women’s prison, which had an entrance gate adorned with rising sun artwork. This would explain the “ball and chain” lyrics in the song.

From Songfacts.

The melody is a traditional English ballad, but the song became popular as an African-American folk song. It was recorded by Texas Alexander in the 1920s, then by a number of other artists including Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White and later Nina Simone. It was her version The Animals first heard. No one can claim rights to the song, meaning it can be recorded and sold royalty-free. Many bands covered the song after it became a hit for The Animals.

The folk music historian Alan Lomax recorded a version in 1937 by a 16-year-old girl named Georgia Turner. In this context, it is sung in the first person, present tense with the singer lamenting how the House of the Rising Sun has ruined her life. In this traditional folk version, the main character is either a prostitute or a prisoner. The Animals changed it to a gambler to make their version more radio-friendly.

In 1964, this folk song about a New Orleans brothel became a transatlantic hit for a British rock band when The Animals recorded it. Their version landed at #1 in the UK on July 9, and in America on September 5.

The Animals performed this song while touring England with Chuck Berry in May 1964. It went over so well that they recorded it between stops on the tour. In our 2010 interview with Animals lead singer Eric Burdon, he explained: “‘House of the Rising Sun’ is a song that I was just fated to. It was made for me and I was made for it. It was a great song for the Chuck Berry tour because it was a way of reaching the audience without copying Chuck Berry. It was a great trick and it worked. It actually wasn’t only a great trick, it was a great recording.”

Bob Dylan included this on his first album in 1962, using a folk arrangement he picked up from hearing Dave Van Ronk perform it and singing it as “it’s been the ruin of many a poor girl.” When The Animals recorded it two years later, it was transformative listening for Dylan, who learned he could put apply a rock rhythm to a folk song. He bought an electric guitar and started to use it, famously at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival where he did an electric set for the first time.

“Bob Dylan, who was angry at first, turned into a rocker,” Eric Burdon told Songfacts. “Dylan went electric in the shadow of The Animals classic ‘House of the Rising Sun.'”

The Beatles began their chart domination in America when “I Want To Hold Your Hand” went to #1 in February 1964. They landed five more #1 hits before “House Of The Rising” topped the chart on September 5, beating every other British Invasion group to the top except for Peter & Gordon, who spent a week at the top in June with “A World Without Love,” a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

This was the first international hit Mickie Most produced. An Englishman, Most went to South Africa in 1959 and formed a band called Mickie Most and his Playboys. Since rock music had not come to the country, Most recorded popular songs like “Johnny B. Goode” and “Shake, Rattle And Roll,” running up a string of hits. Upon returning to England in 1962, he turned to production work, since he had honed his songcraft skills in South Africa. 

After seeing The Animals perform at Club A-Go-Go in Newcastle, he began producing the band; their first recording was “Baby Let Me Take You Home,” which was released as the group’s first single and made UK #21. Next was “The House of the Rising Sun.”

Most quickly became the top producer in England, adding Herman’s Hermits, Donovan, Lulu and Jeff Beck to his roster.

The Animals recorded this in one take, as they had perfected the song from performing it on the road. The Animals’ drummer John Steel recalls in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, “We Played Liverpool on May 17, 1964 and then drove to London where Mickie (Most) had booked a studio for ITV’s Ready Steady Go!Because of the reaction we were getting to ‘Rising Sun,’ we asked to record it and he said, ‘Okay we’ll do it at the same session.’ We set up for balance, played a few bars for the engineer – it was mono with no overdubs – and we only did one take. We listened to it and Mickie said, ‘That’s it, it’s a single.’ The engineer said it was too long, but instead of chopping out a bit, Mickie had the courage to say, ‘We’re in a microgroove world now, we will release it.’ A few weeks later it was #1 all over the world. When we knocked The Beatles off the top in America, they sent us a telegram which read, ‘Congratulations from The Beatles (a group)’.”

The producer Mickie Most recalls, “Everything was in the right place, the planets were in the right place, the stars were in the right place and the wind was blowing in the right direction. It only took 15 minutes to make so I can’t take much credit for the production. It was just a case of capturing the atmosphere in the studio.”

The UK version of this song runs 4:29, which was longer than any other #1 hit in Britain to that point (most hits of the day came in under 3 minutes). The Animals’ UK label, Columbia, didn’t want to release it as a single because of its length, but the group’s producer Mickie Most fought for it. 

In America, the song was edited down to 2:59.

The first Animals single was the far more traditional “Baby Let Me Take You Home,” which reached #21 in the UK and #102 in America. “House Of The Rising Sun” was their second single, and the one that broke them big.

The Animals had 14 Top 40 hits in the US, becoming one of the most successful British Invasion bands in the United States. They split up in 1968 over various music and business issues. Burdon told Songfacts: “I don’t think that The Animals got a chance to evolve. We were the first to admit that we took blues songs from American artists, but if the Animals had stuck together and worked together instead of worrying about who was getting all the money, we could have evolved more and come out with more music to be proud of.”

Animals organist Alan Price was the only band member given credit for arranging the track, meaning he is paid almost all the royalties. Their record company told the other members that there was not enough room to list them as arrangers.

The organ solo was inspired by jazzman Jimmy Smith’s hit “Walk on the Wild Side.” Alan Price performed the solo on a Vox Continental.

In the UK, the Animals version was re-released in 1972 (going to #25) and again in 1982 (#11).

After The Animals split up, Eric Burdon soured on this song and went through a long period where he wouldn’t perform it, saying he “regarded the song as an embarrassment.” He later made peace with it, regularly performing it in various styles.

The English art rock band Alt-J covered this for their 2017 Relaxer album. Their version is so different to the other interpretations by the likes of The Animals and Nina Simone that it barely even registers as a cover version. The group told NPR’s All Things Considered: 

“We have always seen ourselves as a bit of a folk band, and so it seems fitting to try our hands at a song like this. No one knows for sure where this song originated, but our version is very much set in New Orleans. The first verse is mostly from the folk song, the second is our own, thus continuing the folk process of taking a song, changing it, and passing it on.”

House of The Rising Sun

There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I’m one

My mother was a tailor
She sewed my new blue jeans
My father was a gamblin’ man
Down in New Orleans

Now the only thing a gambler needs
Is a suitcase and trunk
And the only time he’s satisfied
Is when he’s on a drunk

Oh mother tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Spend your lives in sin and misery
In the House of the Rising Sun

Well, I got one foot on the platform
The other foot on the train
I’m goin’ back to New Orleans
To wear that ball and chain

Well, there is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I’m one

The Animals – It’s My Life

The Animals were one of the many British bands I learned through by reading about the Beatles. My cousin had House of the Rising Sun and I was mesmerized by the lead singer’s voice. Eric Burdon’s voice huge and commanding. The Animals may have had the hardest edge of any of the British Invasion bands.

This song starts off with Chad Chandler’s bass line and it sets the tone for the rest of the song. Eric Burdon sounds tough, determined, and cocky through the verses. The song peaked at #23 in the Billboard 100, #7 in the UK and #2 in Canada in 1965.

From Songfacts

This was written by Carl D’Errico (music), and Roger Atkins (lyrics) specifically for The Animals. The duo were at the time working for Screen Gems Music, part of the the New York City music scene that included the Brill Building. “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place” (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) and “Don’t Bring Me Down” (Gerry Goffin and Carole King) were also hits for the Animals, which originated from the Brill Building songwriting scene.

Animals lead singer Eric Burdon said he “detested” this song and didn’t want to sing it (producer Mickie Most pushed it through). Perhaps in protest, Burdon changed some of the lyrics. He sang:

Sure, I’ll do wrong
Hurt you sometime
But someday I’ll treat you so fine

But the lyrics was written as:

Show me I’m wrong
Hurt me sometime
But some day I’ll treat you real fine

 

It’s My Life

It’s a hard world to get a break in
All the good things have been taken
But girl there are ways to make certain things pay
Though I’m dressed in these rags, I’ll wear sable some day

Hear what I say
I’m gonna ride the serpent
No more time spent sweatin’ rent
Hear my command
I’m breakin’ loose, it ain’t no use
Holdin’ me down, stick around

But baby (baby)
Remember (remember)
It’s my life and I’ll do what I want
It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want
Show me I’m wrong, hurt me sometime
But some day I’ll treat you real fine

There’ll be women and their fortunes
Who just want to mother orphans
Are you gonna cry, when I’m squeezin’ the rye
Takin’ all I can get, no regrets
When I, openly lie
And leave only money
Believe me honey, that money
Can you believe, I ain’t no saint
No complaints
So girl go out
Hand it out

And baby (baby)
Remember (remember)
It’s my life and I’ll do what I want
It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want
Show me I’m wrong, hurt me sometime
But some day I’ll treat you real fine

(It’s my life and I’ll do what I want) Don’t push me
(It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want) It’s my life
(It’s my life and I’ll do what I want) And I can do what I want
(It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want) You can’t tell me
(It’s my life and I’ll do what I want) I’ll do what I want

New Musical Express Winners 1965 Concert

I have the video of this show. First, the lineup to this event included

  • The Moody Blues
  • Freddie and the Dreamers
  • Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames
  • The Seekers
  • Herman’s Hermits
  • The Ivy League
  • Sounds Incorporated
  • Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Cilla Black
  • Donovan
  • Them
  • The Searchers
  • Dusty Springfield
  • The Animals
  • The Beatles
  • The Kinks

Think about the talent on that stage. To see the Stones, Animals, Van Morrison with Them, The Kinks and The Beatles all in the same day on the same stage. This would be a dream concert. Jimmy Saville hosted the event. It’s hard to watch the guy knowing what we know now about him.

It’s great to see The Rolling Stones with Brian Jones but you can tell the Beatles were THE Band of the day and were clearly the most anticipated.

You see a young Van Morrison fluff a line in “Here Comes The Night” but his voice comes through loud and clear. It’s a wonder you have a sound at all. In between songs you see roadies roll out amps and drums for the next band. They did quite well and it was never a long break between bands.

The sound quality is not the greatest but it’s good enough to watch considering the hectic way they had everyone perform.

The next year the Who, Rolling Stones, and the Beatles would play but The Beatles and Stones would not let their segments be recorded.

As far as I know, there is not an official release of this video…You can watch it on Youtube or order a bootleg DVD on various sites.