From the Stacks

From The Stacks: Elvis Costello, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (12-inch single)

Elvis Costello doing an Animals classic, am I right?

Well, kind of. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” was a top 20 U.S. hit for Eric Burdon’s band back in 1965–top five in the U.K. That version remains a staple of radio, soundtracks, and commercials, but it wasn’t originally an Animals song; rather, it was written for Nina Simone, who recorded it for her 1964 album Broadway-Blues-Ballads.

In terms of tempo and attitude, Costello’s version rests on the fulcrum point between Simone’s poignant version and the Animals’ pop song:

I like Costello’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” but frankly this is one of those tracks that I almost always like regardless of the performer or arrangement. But if I’m being honest, it’s not Nina’s version that I prefer, nor is it the Animals’ nor Elvis’s. My go-to is the 1976 Latin disco version by Santa Esmerelda, but that’s a story for another “From the Stacks” day.

A 12-inch single of Costello’s version will only cost you about three bucks. Keep your eyes open and you can find the full King of America album, which includes this track, for the same amount. Happy hunting.


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