"Don't Bring Me Down" was the third of The Animals' epic personalisations of Brill Building material, following the 1965 hits "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" and "It's My Life". According to one account, all three came out of one call in 1965 that The Animals' then-producer Mickie Most made for songs.
The Animals had always had a somewhat contentious relationship with such songs, knowing they gave them hits but preferring the more straightforward R&B numbers they used for album tracks. Moreover now they were performing a Goffin and King selection; although the couple was already legendary for their pop songwriting prowess, Animals lead singer Eric Burdon had previously seemingly mocked Goffin-King's "Take Good Care of My Baby" in The Animals' 1964 stream-of-consciousness rock history "Story of Bo Diddley". Furthermore they were now using Tom Wilson as a producer, who promised them more artistic freedom than they had had under Mickie Most.
The Animals' arrangement is led by a pulsating organ riff from Dave Rowberry, which is then set against a prominent bass guitar line from Chas Chandler. Hilton Valentine decorates the song with fuzz guitar chords. Eric Burdon sings the verses in a quiet manner:
- When you complain and criticize
- I feel I'm nothing in your eyes
- It makes me feel like giving up
before sliding into a loud, pleading voice on the chorus:
- Oh oh no!
- Don't bring me down
- No no no no
- Oh babe oh no
- Don't bring me down
"Don't Bring Me Down" was a solid hit, reaching the Top 10 (#6) in the UK pop singles chart, and falling just short of that on the U.S. pop singles chart, reaching number 12 during June and July 1966. It was also popular in Canada, reaching number 3 on the CHUM Chart. It was also one of their most popular singles in Germany, reaching number 17.
Rolling Stone would later write that "Don't Bring Me Down" represented one side of the Goffin-King "boy-girl, loneliness-togetherness" duality. Allmusic considers "Don't Bring Me Down" an exemplar of The Animals' "brutally soulful inspiration."
New York Dolls singer David Johansen's Animals medley from his 1982 live album Live It Up gained considerable MTV exposure; "Don't Bring Me Down" was in the middle, following "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" and before "It's My Life".
Some websites erroneously claim the song has earlier been recorded by The Pretty Things in 1964; in fact, that "Don't Bring Me Down" was a different song, written by Johnnie Dee, that was a Top 10 hit in the UK.