I Just Don't Understand

Album: On the Way Up (1961)
Charted: 17

Songfacts®:

  • Swedish-American actress and singer Ann-Margret began recording for RCA Victor in 1961. Initially billed as a female version of Elvis Presley, she scored her only Top 20 Pop hit with this bluesy, rocking number from her second album, On the Way Up. The song was produced by Chet Atkins and featured Elvis' backup singers, the Jordanaires.
  • This was notable for an early example of fuzz guitar played by studio guitarist legend Billy Strange via a handmade pedal. Strange would go on to do session work for the likes of Elvis, Phil Spector and the Beach Boys.
  • The song was later covered live by The Beatles and recorded during a performance at the BBC with lead vocals by John Lennon. It can be heard on their 1994 compilation album Live at the BBC.
  • American rockers Spoon included a cover of this song on their 2014 album They Want My Soul. Spoon lead singer Britt Daniel explained to HungerTV how this cover came about: "There's this website called Rookie... They asked me to contribute to their song of the month. There was a theme to it, which was 'girl groups' – so the idea was to do a cover. I guess somebody at Rookie knew I was a fan of '60s girls groups. They gave me several suggestions – most of which I didn't know, so I just sat down and recorded into a little digital hand held thing the quickie versions of me playing these songs on acoustic guitar. The one that sounded the best was 'I Don't Understand' by Ann-Margret. I told Jim [Eno, drummer] 'Let's just do this quickie recording for Rookie,' and we did it on our own and used a couple of mikes and did it very quickly. But once I put a few over dubs on it I just thought this is too good for Rookie – I'm gonna keep this one! I think it's a good one. I really enjoyed it; it's a bit different. I remember thinking when I first sang it, 'Okay I can get this, it sounds to me like something John Lennon would like.' That kind of lower vocal, almost like a soul and darker vocal – not a happy vocal. Later I found out that The Beatles did cover that song in fact – so it was pretty weird! It felt like I'd made a connection with John Lennon somehow – beyond the grave…" >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

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