Album: Diva (1992)
Charted: 5 34
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This was the first single Annie Lennox released after the 1990 breakup of Eurythmics, her duo with Dave Stewart. Unlike Stewart, Lennox is rather introverted and often questioned herself. And while Stewart was always very encouraging, she wasn't sure she could make music without him.

    In November 2007, Lennox was interviewed extensively by Malcolm Bragg on The South Bank Show. In this program she said that "Why" was a personal song related to her going solo; she wasn't sure that she could write songs by herself, or where she was going in music or in life. It took her about 10 minutes to write. "It's weird," she added, "Some songs are like that, while others are not."

    "Why" showed that Lennox had the goods to go solo, something her fans already knew. It charted in a number of territories and impelled the Diva album to #1 in the UK. The album sold particularly well in America, moving over 2 million copies. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • Lennox had plenty to write about when she started work on the Diva album: She had recently become a mother, her father had died, and she was just getting going as a solo artist. All these tribulations bonded together into this song, where she asks a simple question: Why?

    When asked about this song in Daniel Rachel's book The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters, Lennox replied: "It's basically about the point we humans inevitably come to when we realize that the knots and twists in relationships simply can't be untangled, and we're left dangling with a massive question mark with no apparent resolution. Why? Why? Why? Haven't we all asked that question of ourselves and the universe?"
  • Annie Lennox blogged regarding this song, when promoting her 2009 greatest hits album: "I think this song expresses something of a sense of 'I need to take a stand, and say this.' It's almost testifying, like 'My Way,' or something. The world can be so baffling at times, so you find yourself constantly trying to figure it out... It's also about looking at the aftermath of things. After all this darkness and disappointment with the personal battles you've gone through... Contemplating the ashes of experience, and questioning what it was ever all about. It's like the remains of a building that's crashed and burned to the ground."
  • Lennox wrote this track herself, but she had a lot of help putting it together. Her primary collaborator was Marius De Vries, a keyboard player/programmer who worked on the track. It was produced by Stephen Lipson, who had worked on the Frankie Goes To Hollywood album Welcome To The Pleasuredome.
  • This won the 1992 Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.
  • The music video, directed by Sophie Muller, features Lennox getting ready for the album cover photo shoot. The clip won Best Female Video at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. Muller also directed clips for Lennox's "Walking On Broken Glass," "Little Bird" and "Angel."
  • Lennox was 37 when the album was released. Adapting to her maturity influenced this song. "I feel vulnerable about aging, but perhaps I can be like Edith Piaf, with that chanson sense of grief or melancholy," she told Q in 1992. "I think 'Why' has a little of that. Maybe people will value the texture of age in me. Or maybe I will come to feel I'm too old, it's a kids' game, and go off to write film music."
  • Lennox performed this on a number of TV shows, including Top Of The Pops and Saturday Night Live.
  • The song featured in the 1995 film Boys On The Side.
  • The Spanish musician DJ Sammy recorded a Trance version of this song in 2005 with vocals by Britta Medeiros.
  • The song was covered by Michelle Chamuel on NBC's The Voice in 2013. Her version landed at #92 on the Hot 100 after she sung it in the final.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 6

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NySo what is the correct version of the last line of "Why"?; is it 'feel' or 'fear'

    You don't know what I feel

    You don't know what I fear
  • Jim from Dayton, OhThough never officially confirmed, this song is said to be in part a reflection of her often turbulent romantic relationship with Eurythmics band mate Dave Stewart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyEasily one of my Top 10 songs of all time. In the video I especially look forward to that cute little smile she gives at the lyrics "keep my big mouth shut"...
  • Eb from Orlando Metro, FlThis song, in the subject of the lyrics, reminds me of U2's "One". Both songs, for me, perfectly describe a troubled relationship. It reminds me of a difficult time in my marriage. This song was somehow a comfort at the time. Glad we made it past all that. Powerful good song.
  • Mary from Hortense, GaThis song is so awesome and sad all in one. Annie found my words.
  • Megan from Winnipeg, CanadaI am the first to comment. That makes me feel so honoured. Anyway, I love Annie Lennox, and I think that this is a wonderful song.
see more comments

RamonesFact or Fiction

A band so baffling, even their names were contrived. Check your score in the Ramones version of Fact or Fiction.

British InvasionFact or Fiction

Go beyond The Beatles to see what you know about the British Invasion.

Martin PageSongwriter Interviews

With Bernie Taupin, Martin co-wrote the #1 hits "We Built This City" and "These Dreams." After writing the Pretty Woman song for Go West, he had his own hit with "In the House of Stone and Light."

Jules Shear - "All Through The Night"They're Playing My Song

Shears does very little promotion, which has kept him secluded from the spotlight. What changed when Cyndi Lauper had a hit with his song? Not much, really.

Gene Simmons of KissSongwriter Interviews

The Kiss rocker covers a lot of ground in this interview, including why there are no Kiss collaborations, and why the Rock Hall has "become a sham."

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.