Pop Archives

Normie Rowe & The Playboys - I Just Don’t Understand (1965)

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin)
Australia Australia

B-side of the hit single I Who Have Nothing, charted August 1965 (#10 Sydney #4 Melbourne #23 Brisbane #6 Adelaide #6 Perth).

Melbourne singer Normie Rowe became Australia's top teen idol of the late 60s and the star of Ivan Dayman's Sunshine label. He had a string of hits in Australia from 1965, recorded four singles in London, toured Britain and America, and even inspired a tribute song, Norman-Normie. After he was conscripted to serve in Vietnam he never regained his earlier 'King of Pop' status, but he re-established himself as a respected performer, especially on stage, starring in such productions as Les Miserables and Annie.

Further reading: 1. Full biography at Milesago. 2. Official site at NormieRowe.com

Thanks to Terry Stacey for suggestion and initial research.

Tommy Adderley - I Just Don’t Understand (1964)

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin)
New Zealand New Zealand
#26 Melbourne

Single on Viking #156, released in New Zealand and Australia in 1964.

Charted in Melbourne February 1965.

Also released in 1964 on US label Mar Mar, #314: see ARSA for some 1964 radio chart entries in the USA and Canada.

Also on the album Live On The Peta Posa Show (2nd version: 1965), Viking #VP150

Backing by Max Merritt & His Meteors.

Tommy Adderley (1940-1993) was a Birmingham-born rock and jazz singer, a former sailor who ended up in New Zealand in 1959 after jumping ship in Australia. His first single was released in 1961 and there followed a long career in NZ as a popular band leader, club owner and TV performer.

A biography by Christine Mintrom was published in 1993, Tommy Adderley (1940-1993): The Man and His Contributions to Pop, Jazz, and Rock Music in New Zealand. (A substantial portion of the book may be viewed as a preview at Google Books.)

References: 1. David Johnston, The Music Goes Round My Head, p. 37.
2. Tommy Adderley page at Bruce Sergent's NZ music site.
3. Christine Mintrom, Tommy Adderley (1940-1993) [preview at Google Books]
4. Viking NZ and Australia combined discography at Global Dog.

Thanks to Terry Stacey for fact check.

Freddie & The Dreamers - I Just Don’t Understand (1964)

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin)

On Columbia EP Freddie Sings Just For You by popular Brit Invasion group from Manchester led by the bespectacled zane Freddie Garrity.

Reference: Freddie & The Dreamers story and discography at British Beat Boom.

The Cresters - I Just Don’t Understand (1964)

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin)

Single on HMV by band from the Leeds area, later known as The Crestas.

Further reading: 1. Leeds Musical Heritage at BBC Leeds. 2. Cresters-Crestas notes and singles discographies at 45-rpm.org.uk.

The Beatles - I Just Don’t Understand (1963)

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin)

BBC radio broadcast 13 August 1963 on Pop Goes The Beatles, recorded 16 July. Released 1994 on Live At The BBC.

Reference: 'I Just Don't Understand' at Steve's Beatle's Pages.

Les Paul & Mary Ford - I Just Don’t Understand (1963)

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin)

On Swingin' South, country style album recorded in Nashville by influential electric guitar and recording innovator Les Paul (1915-2009) with vocalist Mary Ford (1924-1977), Paul's wife and musical partner from 1949 to 1962.

Further reading: 1. All Music Guide entry. 2. Wikipedia entry.

Ann-Margret - I Just Don’t Understand (1961)

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin)
Original version
#17 USA #11 Sydney #11 Brisbane #8 Adelaide

Single on RCA, recorded in Nashville by Anne-Margret, the film star and singer born Anne-Margret Olsson in Sweden in 1941 but resident in the USA since childhood. She was in Viva Las Vegas with Elvis Presley, The Cincinatti Kid with Steve McQueen, Carnal Knowledge with Jack Nicholson, and Tommy with The Who.

Nashville songwriter Marijohn Wilkin added lyrics to an instrumental written by Kent Westberry for Charlie McCoy; he never recorded it but he did play on Ann-Margret's record, along with The Jordanaires and guitarist Jerry Kennedy.

Other works by Marijohn Wilkin (1920-2006) include Jimmy Dean's P.T. 109 (1962, #8 USA, co-wr. Fred Burch) and Stonewall Jackson's Waterloo (1959, #4 USA, co-wr. John D. Loudermilk).

With Wayne Walker, Wilkin wrote Cut Across Shorty, the 1960 Eddie Cochran song recorded by Rod Stewart on Gasoline Alley (1970). The gospel-country song One Day At A Time, often recorded but originally by Marilyn Sellars (1974, #34 USA), credited Kris Kristofferson as co-writer with Marijohn Wilkin, although Kristofferson has talked down his role in its composition.

Wilkin's son Bucky Wilkin was Ronnie of Ronnie & The Daytonas whose hit G.T.O. (1964, #4 USA) was published by her company Buckhorn.

References: 1. Anne-Margret biography at IMDB. 2. History of 'I Just Don't Understand' at The Originals by Arnold Rypens. 3. Marijohn Wilkin obituary at The Independent. 4. Marijohn Wilkin entry at Wikipedia. 

Further reading: Update on co-writer Kent Westberry, 7 June 1995: A Well-sung song is a songwriter's dream, in the Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky (Google News Archive).

Willie Nelson - I Just Don’t Understand

(Willie Nelson)
Red herring


BMI lists a dozen songs called I Just Don't Understand. (Oh, and take no notice of All Music Guide which throws in Wilkin and Westberry alongside Nelson as writers of this Red Herring: it's by Willie alone, and it's a different song.)