When I Was Young

Album: Very Best of Eric Burdon & The Animals (1967)
Charted: 45 15

Songfacts®:

  • "When I Was Young" was written by Eric Burdon and included on various Animals albums as well as being a single release.

    Burdon's composition marks an important turning point for the Animals: many of The Animals' hits had been Brill Building productions, most notably the husband-and-wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, which was an effort by their producer Mickie Most to make this British Invasion band sound more American. Burdon found this too restricting, and the group moved to Decca Records by 1966. This was amongst their first hits after this move.
  • Cover versions of this song include versions by Golden Earring, Eddie Fisher, Tina Turner, and The Ramones. It's also been featured in film soundtracks such as Doris Dorrie's Manner....
  • 1967 was the year before The Animals sort of fell apart. The cause is placed entirely on bad business decisions; The Animals were getting rooked over by a dishonest manager and were losing more money than they were making. For more on the band, check out our interview with Eric Burdon.
  • This song is sometimes cited as having pioneered the grunge/metal sound years before its time.
  • Speaking with American Songwriter magazine in a 2013 interview, Eric Burdon said this is the first song he wrote that has stood the test of time. He explained: "When I first wrote it I played it to George Harrison and his comment was 'Great! You got to do more of this. You'll know you'll be able to sing this song when you are in your forties.' Now I am in my 70s and I am still singing it."

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 2nd 1967, "When I Was Young” by Eric Burton & the Animals entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #77; four weeks later on April 30th, 1967 it peaked at 15 {for 3 weeks} and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on June 3rd, 1967 it reached #2* {for 3 weeks} on the Australian RPM 100 Singles chart...
    Between 1964 and 1968 the British quintet had eighteen Top 100 records; three made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "The House of the Rising Sun" for three weeks in 1964...
    For their last eight charted records their name changed from The Animals to Eric Burton & the Animals...
    * The three weeks that "When I Was Young" was at #2, the #1 record for those three weeks was "This Is My Song" by Petula Clark.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Gilby ClarkeSongwriter Interviews

The Guns N' Roses rhythm guitarist in the early '90s, Gilby talks about the band's implosion and the side projects it spawned.

Movie Stars In Music VideosSong Writing

Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and John Malkovich are just a few of the film stars who have moonlighted in music videos.

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.

Donald FagenSongwriter Interviews

Fagen talks about how the Steely Dan songwriting strategy has changed over the years, and explains why you don't hear many covers of their songs.

Jesus Christ Superstar: Ted Neeley Tells the Inside StorySong Writing

The in-depth discussion about the making of Jesus Christ Superstar with Ted Neeley, who played Jesus in the 1973 film.

RamonesFact or Fiction

A band so baffling, even their names were contrived. Check your score in the Ramones version of Fact or Fiction.