It's a great big galloping ball of distortion. I wrote it at the last minute, 'cos I felt there weren't enough loud ones on the album. This was just what I was after.
—Discovery remaster (2001), Jeff Lynne
"Don't Bring Me Down" is the band's second highest charting hit in the UK where it peaked at number 3 and their biggest hit in the United States, peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also charted well in Canada (number 1) and Australia (number 6). This was the first song by ELO not to include a string section.
The drum track is in fact a tape loop, coming from "On the Run" looped and slowed down.
A common mondegreen in the song is the perception that, following the title line, Lynne shouts "Bruce!". According to the liner notes of the ELO compilation Flashback, he is saying a made-up lyric, "Grroosss," which some have suggested sounds like the Bavarian expression "Grüß Gott." After the song's release, so many people had misinterpreted the word as "Bruce" that Lynne actually began to sing the word as "Bruce" for fun at live shows.
A music video for the song was produced, which showed video of the band performing the song interspersed with various animations relating to the song's subject matter, including big-bottomed majorettes and a pulsating neon frankfurter. The band's three resident string players are depicted playing keyboards in the music video.
In 2005, Parthenon Huxley covered the song on his Homemade Spaceship album. Huxley's version is a Goons-ish sendup featuring ELO bassist Kelly Groucutt (credited as Jelly Donut) on spoken vocals and ELO violinist Mik Kaminski (credited as Poppadom Screech) on violin.
In 2006, L.E.O. includes a shortened cover of the song as a hidden track on their album Alpacas Orgling.
In 2010, Donna Loren covered the song on her album Love It Away.
In 2012, The Hives released a song called "Go Right Ahead". Though not a direct cover, the main riff in the song is nearly identical to the one in "Don't Bring Me Down", and as a result Jeff Lynne was officially credited as a co-writer.
OK Go performed the song and released on their Live From SoHo EP in 2007.