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.
The song ends with the sound of a door slamming. According to producer Jeff Lynne, this was a metal fire door at Musicland Studios where the song was recorded.
A common mondegreen in the song is the perception that, following the title line, Lynne shouts "Bruce!". In the liner notes of the ELO compilation Flashback and elsewhere, Lynne has explained that he is singing a made-up word, "Grooss," which some have suggested sounds like the German expression "Gruß." 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 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.