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 June 1965, 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.

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

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin)

On Columbia EP Freddie Sings Just For You August 1964 by popular British Invasion group from Manchester led by the bespectacled zane Freddie Garrity. Released in Australia 1964, in New Zealand 1965.

For more on Freddie & The Dreamers see their original version of A Love Like You (1965), covered in Australia by Lynne Randell (#15 Melbourne).

Freddie and the band also recorded the original version of Gimme Dat Ding (1970), known in Australia through hit versions by The Maple Lace and by Frankie Davidson.

Reference: Freddie & The Dreamers story and discography from British Beat Boom [archived page].

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

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

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

Charted in Melbourne February 1965.*

Also released in USA September 1964 on Chess subsidiary Mar Mar.
See “Tommy’s big Chess move” by Peter McLennan at AudioCulture.co.nz.

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.)

* What about the NZ chart? There was no national NZ chart until March 1966 when Listener magazine began a chart based on readers’ votes. Sales figures were used from April 1970 and official music industry charts began in May 1975. Scroll way down at my About page for more.)

References, further reading: 1. David Johnston, The Music Goes Round My Head, p. 37.
2. Tommy Adderley page at Bruce Sergent’s NZ music site.
3. Tommy Adderley profile and other resources at AudioCulture.co.nz
4. Christine Mintrom, Tommy Adderley (1940-1993) [preview at Google Books]

Thanks to Terry Stacey for fact check.

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

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin)

Single on HMV January 1964 by band from the Leeds area, later known as The Crestas.

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

Listen at YouTube

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’ from Steve’s Beatle’s Pages [archived page].

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

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin)

On Swingin’ South June 1963, 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.

Listen at YouTube

Sophie - Je Ne Comprends Rien (I Just Don’t Understand) (1963)

(Kent Westberry - Marijohn Wilkin - Pierre Delanoë)
France France

On Decca EP Quand Un Air Vous Possède by French TV-radio presenter and singer born Arlette Hecquet in Dax, southwestern France (1944-2012). She toured with French pop star Johnny Hallyday using an earlier stage name, Jenny Ann.

French lyrics are by prolific lyricist and adapter Pierre Delanoë (1918-2006).

The EP carries four adaptations of English-language songs. The lead track Quand Un Air Vous Possède is from The Drifters’ When My Little Girl Is Smiling. (My loose translation is When a tune grabs you but don’t quote me.)

Further reading: Sophie Hecquet at Wikipedia (EN) and Wikipedia (FR).

Merci encore à Philippe.

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 June 1961, 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.

Some labels show artist’s name as Anne Margret without a hyphen.

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 (1969)

(Willie Nelson)
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as ‘I Just Don’t Understand’ by Normie Rowe or Tommy Adderley.

On 1969 album My Own Peculiar Way, also on 2003 compilation I Just Don’t Understand.

BMI and ASCAP list 20 songs entitled I Just Don’t Understand at their combined Songview database.

Take no notice of All Music 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.

Opening lyrics
Willie Nelson (wr. Nelson): I’d be the last one to tell you that you shouldn’t go / And the first to say, “Be happy if you can” ♫ Listen at YouTube
Anne-Margret: (wr. Wilkin-Westberry): Well you call me your baby / When you’re holdin’ my hand