The Animals vs. Back to the Future

The Animals vs. Back to the Future

Just for fun, here’s an example of one of those terrific little melodies that pops up here and there, but is found in such separate stylistic zones and used to such different ends that the similarities are fairly oblique. In this instance, we hear an echo of the Animals song “Dont Bring Me Down” in the central thematic motif of the score to Back to the Future. Written for the group by famed songwriting partnership Goffin/King, the song contains a repeated figure played by eminent organist Dave Rowberry, who had a significant role in shaping the band’s latter-day sound. The Back to the Future theme, written by Alan Silvestri, makes very different use of the same basic figure, turning it into the triumphant calling card of the trilogy’s sound design.

It’s noteworthy that Animals leader Eric Burdon, well known for harboring reservations about the pop-oriented, hit-making material his band was regularly pressured to record, radically altered Carole King’s original melody in favor of his own so that really only Gerry Goffin’s lyrics remained. The song represents a fascinating “Animalization” of a fairly typical boy/girl lyric, transforming it into something with real bite — though the songwriters’ demo recording is scarce, the organ riff was presumably also unique to the Animals’ recording.

Alan Silvestri - "Back to the Future Main Theme" (1985)
The Animals - "Don't Bring Me Down (Intro)" (1966)
The Animals - "Don't Bring Me Down (Chorus)" (1966)


On something of a tangent, “Don’t Bring Me Down” was actually one of three hits passed from the Brill Building to the Animals, a trilogy which David Johansen pays brilliant homage to in this MTV video from 1984:


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