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« Audiovisual Through Time Entertainment Linkage | Main | Bozeman Slick »

July 26, 2008

Videos for the Day: "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Written by Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell and Sol Marcus, the song was first recorded (in 1964) by the pianist / chanteuse (and civil-rights movement heroine) Nina Simone:

The song became a hit when its moroseness was given a kickin' R&B beat by The Animals:

Santa Esmerelda released a 16 minute-long Latinized disco version of the song in 1977. Quentin Tarantino included some bars from it in "Kill Bill":

And Elvis Costello made an impact when he took the song slow and raw in 1986:

Votes? Me, I adore The Animals' version and feel some fondness for the postpunk soul of Costello's.



UPDATE: JMW rightly scolds me for neglecting to include Joe Cocker's version of the song. Here's a live rendition:

posted by Michael at July 26, 2008


I love the Nina Simone version. Then, I love almost anything by Nina Simone. Eric Burdon and the Animals' take is certainly the classic and hearing it brings me back to the days of my youth ... ah, to be hormonally impaired in a dark gym checking out nubile female classmates in mini skirts to the sound of a semi-competent garage band giving their version of the Animals version once again. Without being familiar with the full 16 min. take it's hard to judge Santa Esmerelda's contribution to the song. The short version on the clip doesn't seem to bring much new or interesting to the table, however. Costello's version is wonderful ... and sounds like he listened carefully to Nina Simone's.

The video side of the equation on all of them is far less than inspiring. I wonder who did the excessively earnest collage using Nina Simone's audio ... too many clich├ęs that detract from the more open ended ways of interpreting the lyrics. All the lip-synched sixties TV clips now seem so dated and generic with too great a whiff of kitsch that again detracts from the intense soul of the audio. The Santa Esmerelda performance gets three points for the campy semi-flamenco dancers. The early MTV vibe in the Costello image flow also now seems dated and self-consciously hip.

Still, thanks for the links. You can't go too far wrong with a great song done by 3 fabulous singers ... and one intriguing novelty act.

Posted by: Chris White on July 26, 2008 1:06 PM

Fantastic. What a great way to start the morning! I like Elvis's too.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 26, 2008 1:38 PM

You don't list my favorite version, which is Joe Cocker's, used to very good effect in the final scene of the movie LAYER CAKE.

Posted by: JMW on July 27, 2008 10:36 PM

Eric Burdon and the Animals' keyboard player was Alan Price. At a University dance in the winter of 1965, after the Animals had played their set and the others had departed, nice Mr Price entertained me and half-a-dozen chums for an hour in our Common Room, playing and singing the blues, because he enjoyed it. We did bring him beer, of course.

Posted by: dearieme on July 31, 2008 4:32 PM

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