The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Don't Know Why

Don't Know Why

#125 / Sept. 23 Podcast

Regular readers/listeners love all those scintillating sax solos by Vanessa Coffman, and with good reason! This talented 20-year-old started in January 2020 rocking our repertoire on her tenor, Blue, as well as on her bari, Viper, and her soprano, Savoy.

And member of the her Flood family know Veezy also is a fine singer, as demonstrated in this song, which she has brought us earlier this year. Listen as Danny Cox leads us on beautifully framing Vanessa’s lovely vocal.

About the Song

"Don't Know Why" was Norah Jones' first single.

The song launched her to stardom, but, contrary to what some folks assume, Jones didn't write it. Instead, it was written in 1999 by New York City-based songwriter-guitarist Jesse Harris, who played a key role in Jones’ rise to Grammy-winning renown.

A few weeks after he wrote “Don’t Know Why,” Harris recorded it himself and released it under the name of “Jesse Harris and The Ferdinandos.” He sold the album on his website.

It was a year earlier that Harris met Norah Jones when he and a group of other musicians put on a clinic at the University of North Texas, where Jones was a student. The two of them stayed in touch, and in 1999 at his urging she moved to New York City to pursue music.

Notably, Jones’ version of "Don't Know Why,” which was nominated for the Record of the Year Grammy, was the first take of a demo recording session she did live with her band on Oct. 8, 2000.

"I just remember we walked into the control room thinking we would try it again, and the engineer looked floored," Harris later recalled. "He said, 'Man, that is amazing. That was it.' "

The song spent 24 weeks on the Hot 100 before it reached the top 40, making it the longest ascent by a female artist in one chart run.

That year Jones cleaned up at the Grammys, winning all five awards she was nominated for. And of course, it was "Don't Know Why" that she performed on the awards show.

The Lyrics

Built around the lyric "I don't know why I didn't come," the song is about the empty feeling of being alone. Incidentally, Harris says his song is not autobiographical, that he often writes about loss that has nothing to do with his personal life. Beyond that, he prefers not to discuss his lyrics. "I think songs have different meanings for different people,” he says, “so I'm reluctant to impose my own meaning.”

But over the years, others have had fun with his tune.

For instance, Norah Jones once performed on TV’s Sesame Street, playfully lamenting about the letter "Y," singing, "Don't know why Y didn't come." (Of course, the errant letter eventually does show up, and, in good Sesame Street style, everyone gets along and learns something.

Our Take on the Tune

Just as we did.

Click here to hear our take on the tune, with Veezy’s vocal framed by solos from Danny Cox and Sam St. Clair.

The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Each week The 1937 Flood, West Virginia's most eclectic string band, offers a free tune from a recent rehearsal, show or jam session. Music styles range from blues and jazz to folk, hokum, ballad and old-time. All the podcasts, dating back to 2008, are archived on our website; you and use the archive for free at: