Oh, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

“Don’t Let be Misunderstood” is a song written by Bennie Benjamin, Horace Ott and Sol Marcus for the singer and pianist Nina Simone, who first recorded it in 1964. The song has been covered by many artists, most notably by The Animals, whose blues rock version of the song became a transatlantic hit in 1965. (Per Wikipedia). Cat Stevens does a meaningful interpretation as well, as he tempers the sound so the words seep through.

The song has an important message, but first here are the lyrics.

“People, do you understand me now,
If sometimes I feel a little mad
Don’t you know no one alive can
Always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem a little sad
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

You know sometimes, I’m so carefree
With a joy that’s hard to hide
Sometimes seems that all I have is worry
And then you’re bound to see my other side
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

If I seem edgy, I want you to know
That I never mean to take it out on you
Life has its problems and I get more
Than my share
But that’s one thing I never mean to do
I don’t mean it
People, don’t you know I’m only human
Don’t you know I have faults like any one
But sometimes I find myself alone regretting
Some little thing; some foolish thing
That I have done,
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

Don’t let me be misunderstood
I’m just someone whose intentions are good
Don’t let me be misunderstood,
Don’t let me be misunderstood”

My wife suggested I include this song in a post. She feels people are being misunderstood as others are not taking the time to listen. If we listen to each other, the context of a comment will finds its way in. Once you listen, you then have earned the right to be heard in return. A key part of the song is to start out with assuming the intentions are good. That may be giving too much credit, but if we listen first, we can ask better questions.

I have often written about Daryl Davis, an African-American man who has convinced more than 200 white men to leave the Ku Klux Klan. He said he did it by listening. Then, he would ask a few questions and listen some more. He observed that people, even with strong opinions he disagreed with, just want to be heard. By listening, he would ask probing, thoughtful questions that made the person think.

I truly admire this man, his courage and his approach. If we emulate him, we can have better conversations.

13 thoughts on “Oh, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

  1. Centuries ago Diogenes said : “We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” In all of the ensuing years, it appears that many have never learned the fine art of really listening with an open mind and heart. I do like the Cat Stevens version of the song, but The Animals is the version that I most remember hearing in the long gone days of my youth. Thank-you!

    • Ellen, thanks for the original source of the quote. I had a boss who would say “one mouth” rather than “one tongue” but the point is still valid. I agree with you on the two versions of the song. Eric Burdon of The Animals had a strong voice. Keith

    • Hugh, so true. It is hard to listen when one is staring at a screen. I am guilty of this as well. I knew a social worker who used to say, “be present in the conversation.” Keith

  2. This is so true and I can only second what your wife said, Keith. I think it is one of the basic needs of a person to feel understood. Of course, we need to learn that not everybody will because many are not interested in understanding others. But it is a need. And the other side is to be willing to understand others. This openness is it which is crucial to develop respect, acceptance, compassion.

      • 😆- Great comeback Keith!
        😖 – Horrific image .
        (PS: If we are using that the song, the refrain from Maria’s friends Rosalia, Estella, & Consuelo comes to mind,- with adjustments
        ‘Have you met my good friend Donald
        The craziest kid on the bloc’)

  3. (old post reply) A prayer Solomon might have come up with in later years; wisdom – even granted by Divine power – can’t be sure it was understood a-right. And Mr. Davis should get a quiet statue somewhere in the Federal District after he’s gotten to the end of his race, for what he’s done.

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