The 1960s were a transformative era for music, with bands like The Animals redefining popular tunes in their own unique style. One of their hits, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down,’ penned by legendary songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin, became a classic. However, the story behind this song reveals a surprising twist – Carole King herself despised The Animals’ rendition.
In the heyday of their career, The Animals were known for their ability to transform mainstream pop songs into bluesy garage rock masterpieces.
‘Don’t Bring Me Down,’ originally written by King and Goffin, was picked up by The Animals’ producer Mickie Most. While the song became a hit, the band’s lead singer, Eric Burdon, was never completely content with this collaboration. He believed that these external compositions didn’t align with The Animals’ signature hard-driving R&B sound.
Burdon’s dissatisfaction with songs like ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ was evident even in their early work. In ‘Story of Bo Diddley,’ the opening track of The Animals’ debut studio album, Burdon subtly mocked Goffin and King, suggesting that songs like ‘Take Good Care of My Baby’ marked the decline of true rock and roll.
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The interesting turn came when Burdon unknowingly met Carole King in a doctor’s office in Beverly Hills.
It was there that King, recognizing her own creation, confronted Burdon about his band’s rendition of ‘Don’t Bring Me Down.’ Burdon recalled the encounter, saying,
“I didn’t know it was her, I was just reading a magazine, and she turned to me and said, ‘You know, I hated what you did to my song.’ I didn’t know what to say, so all I said was, ‘Well, sorry.’ And then, as she got up to go into the doctor’s office, she turned around and said, ‘But I got used to it.'”
Despite King’s initial dislike, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ became a top ten hit in the UK, securing her substantial royalty checks.
While the song only reached number 12 in America, it marked one of The Animals’ highest chart positions until their next single, ‘See See Rider,’ reached number 11 a few months later.
In the end, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ stands as a testament to The Animals’ unique ability to infuse their distinct style into any song, even if it didn’t quite sit well with the original songwriter. It serves as a reminder of the creative tensions that often exist between artists and their interpretations, making the world of music all the more fascinating.