Cat Cohen's Anatomy of a Hit a Hit in 2002

Don't Know Why by Norah Jones

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Norah Jones smashes her way onto the pop charts with this out of left field jazzy hit.

Song: Don't Know Why
Artist: Norah Jones
Album: Come Away With Me
Songwriter: Jesse Harris
Producer: Arif Mardin
B00005YW4H

Concept
Loosely knit description of a love affair that has ended.

Lyric
A recollection of ending a casual love affair with its mixed emotions. The words are also casual and almost half-baked. In any other style they would seem incomplete, but with this jazz feel their poetic abstractness complements the music.

When I saw the break of day, I wished that I could fly away, Stead of kneeling in the sand, Catching teardops in my hand.

Groove
A relaxed straight 8th note feel throughout. The soft jazzy drum sound with brushes and gentle backbeat in a classic small jazz ensemble arrangement. Jones' sparse keyboard styling adds to the laid back feel.

Melody
Perhaps the strongest element of this successful recording. The melody has interesting intervals,repeated descending thirds outlining a dissonant jazz chord followed by an ascending response. The vbridge has contrasting long held notes which depart very well before the return of the next verse. Sophisiticated, yet simple, an effective way to sell jazz to a pop audience.

Harmony
Jazz chords are played throughout with major 7ths, 9ths, 11thsand 13ths bringing a language rarely heard to the pop charts.

Imaj7, IVmaj7, iv7/I, vi7, II9, V11, I

Structure
Old fashioned Tin Pan Alley song form

AAB.

Verse1-Verse2-Bridge-Verse3-Solo-Bridge-Verse

Signature
Simple loungy guitar and piano intro.

Production
Arif Mardin is a veteran record producer with taste, subtlety and style, perfect for Norah's brand of jazz-pop.

Performance
Norah Jones could sing the phone book and be enjoyable. This song allows her innate musicality to express itself with its laid back appeal.

Predicted Longevity
The song is pleasant enough but not especially memorable. It is more Norah's singing and vocal style that will linger in the pop spectrum for some time. She is certainly a case of being in the right place at the right time. Her pop acceptance signals this era's return to a softer, kinder gentler answer to the rough edged rap, metal, and grunge sounds of the 90s. Other songs on this excellent album could have served equally as well as a single.

Album Cover: Come Away With Me

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