Eric Burdon – Top Songs and Their Stories - Wishevoke

Eric Burdon – Top Songs and Their Stories

Eric Burdon’s life could fill endless pages of commentary.

A man who led three successful (and different) historical groups (The Animals, Eric Burdon And The Animals, Eric Burdon & War), mingled with the most interesting figures in the music we love and witnessed the social changes of the ’60s “Heart of Facts” is a treasure trove for every columnist and interviewer.

The two very interesting interviews that we received from… 2004 And 2014 They confirmed it to us.

For this article, we have collected information from most of the recorded stories surrounding his songs, which he either recorded in his books or told in interviews.

Finally, we selected the “juiciest” of them that offer interest beyond the question “How did I write a hit song?” and in which personalities such as Janis Joplin, George Harrison, Nina Simone, Linda McCartney and Jim Morrison “parade”.

The Animals – The House of the Rising Sun (1964)

The Animals – The House of the Rising Sun

“Well, there’s a house in New Orleans / They call it the rising sun / And it’s ruined many a poor boy / And God I know I am one”

A lot of interesting things can be written about the Animals’ sensational cover of this folk standard. About how much it influenced Bob Dylan to go “electric,” about Burdon’s own search for his true “home” in New Orleans, and about the song’s chilling influence on popular music.

However, for Burdon, his success (No. 1 in the US and UK) was a huge lesson for the music industry. After their third appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, the Animals had to walk through the crowd of fans waiting outside the studios with the help of the police to get to their limousine. A careless fan, with the album in one hand and a marker in the other, slightly hits his head against a pillar while trying to chase the car.

At that moment the band’s promoter decides to tell them: “Do you feel like your shit is worth its weight in gold? Remember, we’re lifting you up there.. When asked, explanations were given immediately. “The record company bought as many copies of the record as they needed to send to No.1. We got you to the top and we can knock you down just as quickly.”.

The Animals – The Story of Bo Diddley (1964)

The Animals – The Story OF Bo Diddley

“And one night the doors opened / And to our surprise, in walked the man himself, Bo Diddley.”

“I admit it. The story is completely false” writes Burdon in his autobiography. In fact, his love for Bo Diddley transformed the Animals’ real performance with Diddley’s percussionist Jerome Green at the A Go Go club into the fantasy of a great reunion with one of the forefathers of rock ‘n’ roll. Much later, in 2013, Eric acknowledged his major influence again on his personal album “Until your river runs dry”.

For information on Diddley’s influence on the Rock’s greats, see our previous article Here.

The Animals – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (1965)

The Animals – Don’t let me be misunderstood

“Baby, sometimes I’m so carefree / With a joy that’s hard to hide”

A cutting and sewing composition for the tigress Nina Simone. A great cover from the Animals and a great performance from Burdon, proving that there are no songs you can’t touch.

When Linda McCartney took Eric Burdon backstage at a Nina Simone concert in New York, she didn’t let him down. “So you’re the white-skinned idiot who stole my song and made it a hit.”. After a short pause, he replied on the same wavelength. “Look, if you admit that the parts you sang could belong to the bones of some poor Fucara buried in an unmarked grave in the Angolan state prisons, then I admit that your performance inspired us to do so to record this song. “.

Simone slowly stood up and held out her hand. “My name is Nina Simone”. “Eric Burdon” he answered her. “Nice to meet you. Take a seat”. This is how their friendship began, which lasted until her death in 2003.

The Animals – Don’t Bring Me Down (1966)

The Animals – Don’t Bring Me Down

“I will make sacrifices, I am willing to both give and take”

This pair of Gerry Goffin and Carole King (who, in addition to the latter’s successful career, are known as a synthesizer duo of major pop hits) came to the Animals via the Brill Building. This is the legendary building that housed the lyricist and composer groups of the most important record companies and provided the artists with hits for years.

The Animals relied on covers early in their career and were offered several songs written in the building in question.

Eric Burdon did not know the identity of the composers until some time later when he happened to meet Carole King herself in the lobby of a clinic in Beverly Hills.

King – who was sitting next to him without realizing it – “said” to him at an unsuspecting time: “You know I hated your cover of my song…”. Burdon replied “Um, sorry.” and before he could say anything else, she stood up herself and “flew” just before entering his office: “…but I got used to it”.

Eric Burdon and the Animals: When I Was Young (1967)

Eric Burdon and the Animals – When I was Young

“When I was young it was more important / pain was more painful / laughter was much louder”

In the second version of Animals, Burdon no longer relies on arrangements of standards and “bought” songs from the Brill Building and tries to open his lyrical and compositional wings.

One of the best examples of his talent is this particular autobiographical song (a collaboration with Animals), which he himself is proud of, as he mentioned in a previous interview.

“I’ve written a lot of songs, but ‘When I Was Young’ has stood the test of time. George Harrison once said that I should continue to write songs that I can sing even after I turn 40. Now I’m 70 and I still sing it!

Eric Burdon and the Animals – San Franciscan Nights (1967)

Eric Burdon and the Animals – San Franciscan Nights

“On a warm night in San Francisco / Angels sing, leather wings / Blue jeans, Harley Davidsons too”

Burdon, as he writes in his biography, was inspired by this success of the second and more psychedelic version of the Animals on a particular evening in the city of San Francisco, when he attended the Janis Joplin concert at the legendary Fillmore West.

There, wading through the crowd, he saw members of the Hell’s Angels kicking a fuker before meeting Jim Morrison and the Grateful Dead backstage.

Of course, he also saw another great performance by Joplin there, about which he says: “They never really took it in. No magnetic tape could ever properly capture an artist like Janis Joplin. You had to see and hear them live”.

Eric Burdon & War – Spill The Wine (1970)

Eric Burdon & War – Spill The Wine

“I stood high on a mountaintop, naked to the world / Before every kind of girl there was / Black, round, big, crazy”

This big hit by Eric Burdon with War was created through improvisation and the inspiration came from an overturned wine bottle in the recording studio.

The song is about summer love and Hollywood movies, and also inspired an inside joke about wine bottles that promoters would leave behind the scenes of their concerts to see if Eric Burdon could open them without a bottle opener… with his tongue. . The truth was that the bottles were opened simply by pressing the cork with your finger, but we must not forget that in addition to great songs, this era also produced many exaggerated stories about the stars of the era.



No misunderstanding – Eric Burdon and J. Marshall Craig – Electra Publications


American songwriter (
Songfacts (


Listen to some of Eric Burdon’s great songs Here.

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