"It's My Life" is a song written by Brill Building songwriters Roger Atkins and Carl D'Errico. The song was originally performed by English R&B band The Animals, who released it as a single in October 1965.
The song became a hit in several different countries and has since been recorded by multiple artists.
D'Errico, who wrote the music, and Atkins, who wrote the lyrics, were professional songwriters associated with the greater Brill Building scene in New York City. By 1965 they were working for Screen Gems Music, but had only found minor success at best.
"It's My Life" was written specifically for the Animals because their producer Mickie Most was soliciting material for the group's next recording sessions. (Other Animals hits to come out of this Brill Building call were "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" and "Don't Bring Me Down".). "It's My Life" has become D'Errico and Atkins' best-known work.
The Animals' recording is propelled by a bass guitar riff from Chas Chandler, soon joined by an electric twelve-string guitar riff from Hilton Valentine. In the view of musicologist Walter Everett, the doubled line gives the song its strength. The organ part by Dave Rowberry (Alan Price's replacement) gives the track the sound that distinguishes the Animals from other "British Invasion" groups, its darker timbre differing from Mike Smith of the Dave Clark Five, for example. Music writer Dave Marsh has compared the dual part to a rock version of pointillism. James E. Perrone feels the low-pitched, gruff vocal of lead singer Eric Burdon matches lyrics that rhetorically convey Burdon's working class origins in Tyneside, North East England:
- It's a hard world to get a break in
- All the good things have been taken
- But girl there are ways to make certain things pay
- Though I'm dressed in these rags
- I'll wear sable some day
The song then builds to a musical climax in the chorus, with Burdon complemented by response vocals from Chandler and Rowberry:
- But baby! (Baby!) Remember! (Remember!)
- It's my life and I'll do what I want
- It's my mind and I'll think what I want
There are two different versions of The Animals' recording due to a slight variation of playback speed. The track found on The Best Of The Animals 1987 cd compilation, clocking in at 3:13, is pitched a half-step lower than the one included on the Retrospective cd from 2004, which is trimmed down to 3:08 due to its faster speed. Other than that slight speed/pitch variation and an additional 3 seconds or so of fade-out music on the faster version, the two tracks are exactly the same.
"It's My Life" was visually premiered on the US television show Hullabaloo in autumn 1965, where the group sang live vocals against canned music on a den-type set that featured attractive young women sticking their heads through holes in the wall, where normally animal heads would be mounted.
In Marsh's view, "It's My Life" was one of a wave of songs in 1965, by artists such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, that ushered in a new role for rock music as a vehicle for common perception and as a force for social consciousness. Writer Craig Werner sees the song as reflecting the desire on the part of both the Animals and their audience to define themselves apart from the community they came from. Writer Dave Thompson includes the song in his book 1000 Songs that Rock Your World, saying simply, "There is no angrier declaration of independence than this."
|Canadian Singles Chart
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)
|US Billboard Hot 100
The Animals - It's My Life / I'm Going to Change the World
UK Columbia DB 7741 (1965).
Record produced by Mickie Most.
The vinyl record attains a strong excellent grading, suggesting few plays.
Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.
Both record centre labels are free from thears, stains or stickers.
The record centre hole, displays no signs of spindle wear.
The record comes with an original company paper sleeve.