Sometimes Roger Green deals me a solid without intending to. This piece about unintentional mispronunciations — and the occasional intentional mispronunciation — was titled “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good.” To persons of a Certain Age, this turns on the light bulb above the head. And sure enough, the last paragraph calls out the #15 hit for the Animals, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” for which he was wise enough to provide a link to an actual live version. (This is the 45.)
I left him a namecheck — Nina Simone, who cut it first in 1964 with Horace Ott’s orchestra — and promptly stumbled across something I didn’t know: the Eric Is Here album, the first official Eric Burdon and the Animals LP in the States (the UK albums never matched up), was mostly Burdon, new drummer Barry Jenkins, and Horace Ott’s orchestra. While Eric Is Here produced only one hit single, “Help Me Girl,” it contained, somehow, three Randy Newman songs: “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” from Newman’s debut album; “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” from 12 Songs; and “Wait Till Next Year,” from God knows where. And these tracks were recorded in late 1966, long before anybody except maybe Van Dyke Parks had ever heard of Randy Newman. For this, I’m about ready to forgive Burdon for “Monterey,” and that takes a lot.
And of course, I’ve lifted that line of Eric’s, or Nina’s, myself. Cut to Canterlot General, where Twilight Sparkle’s coltfriend is getting the second degree from Twi’s parents:
“I had a younger sister and I was suspicious of just about every one of her dates.” He coughed once. “Eventually, she married. He was poor, but he was honest.”
“Not unlike yourself?” Night Light quipped.
Brush considered. “I’m not all that poor, but I do strive to be honest. Mostly. I’m just a soul whose intentions are good.”
But turning back to “Misunderstood” for a moment: during the disco era, a pair of French producers recruited singer Leroy Gómez for a remake, based on the Animals’ rearrangement but with elements of salsa and flamenco. It came out as a 16-minute LP side; a 3:48 edit came out for radio purposes. And I listened to that edit and thought it was wrong somehow. Turns out that in the States, Casablanca Records issued NB 902 twice, once at 3:48 and once at 5:25. It was the 5:25 version I remembered, and the only 5:25 version on YouTube was recorded from one of those 45s.
I have to assume that Casablanca founder Neil Bogart knew what he was doing: the Santa Esmeralda version of “Misunderstood” charted at #15, the same place the Animals had landed a dozen years before.