• This song was co-written by the late Lula Mae Hardaway, i.e. Stevie Wonder’s mother.
  • I Don’t Know Why was originally issued as the fourth and final single (on 28 January 1969) from For Once in My Life, with its B-side being My Cherie Amour, even though the two songs are from different albums.  However, once My Cherie Amour began to blow up, with I Don’t Know Why failing to perform as Motown had hoped, their positions on the single were switched.
  • The Rolling Stones recorded a cover of I Don’t Know Why on 3 July 1969, which happened to be the same night that one of the band’s original members, Brian Jones (1942-1969), passed away.  In fact, it has been reported that they were in the processing of recording this very song when they received news of his passing.  That said, Mick Jagger and co.’s rendition of I Don’t Know Why was eventually dropped in 1975, as part of The Rolling Stones compilation album Metamorphosis.
  • This song made an appearance on 14th episode of the 2nd season of ABC series Scandal.  Said episode, which is titled “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”, first aired on 14 February 2013.
  • Other artists who have covered this song include the Jackson 5 (1970), Thelma Houston (1976), John Mellencamp (2003) and The Brand New Heavies (2006).
  • Stevie Wonder performed this song on the BBC televison program Top of the Pops on 6 March 1969.
  • In 2002, Stevie Wonder was inducted into the BET Walk of Fame.  And one of the songs performed in his honor was I Don’t Know Why, as rendered by Jill Scott.
  • Up until the release of this track, Stevie Wonder’s songs that dealt with romance tended to be upbeat and joyful.  But according to The Financial Times, in the case of I Don’t Know Why “unrequited love has never been so convincingly relayed”.  And it is that reason, i.e. song’s “ominous blues tone”, which may have prevented it from being a big hit.


And that is in fact the case, i.e. this being a song of unrequited love which, from an emotional perspective, is relayed such that you would really believe that the singer’s heart is broken.  However, it does not appear that lyrics were based on Stevie’s personal life, at a time when he was a teenage music superstar.

This is perhaps one of the first songs in (American) music industry history in which the vocalist is directly confronting an unfaithful female.  Previous and concurrent tracks of this nature tended to focus more on promiscuous males.  But that said, I Don’t Know Why doesn’t feature any gender pronouns, and one of its cowriters was in fact a woman.

The lyrics are pretty straightforward and lend to the strong sentiment of dejection Stevie expresses.  He is in love with someone who not only has “cheating ways” but also, most simply interpreted, treats him like crap.  That’s to say that the addressee is not giving the vocalist any reason to be in love with her, but he’s head over heels nonetheless.

What that entails in context is Stevie “pleading” with homegirl to likewise love him, rightfully, in return.  All lyrics considered, that isn’t likely to happen, and the singer probably knows that in the back of his mind.  But in his current state, he obviously can’t conceptualize being without his sweetheart.


Stevie Wonder is not only a master of love songs but also those dealing with heartbreak.  I Don’t Know Why is one of his best in that regard, right up there with the likes of Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer (1971) and Superwoman (1972).  Those latter two may be more impressive lyrically, but they don’t top the emotion of this song, as rendered by Stevie.

I also believe that this track may have begun a more general trend, that of the slow-tuned, emotional breakup songs by male R&B artists (if not R&B singers in general), which would be followed by the likes of Bill WithersAin’t No Sunshine in 1971, Al Green‘s How Can You Mend a Broken Heart in 1972, etc.


“I Don’t Know Why”.  Wikipedia.  Last edited on 6 December 2023.

“Stevie Wonder – I Don’t Know Why Lyrics”.  Genius.  Accessed on 22 January 2024.

“For Once in My Life (Stevie Wonder Album)”.  Wikipedia.  Last edited on 27 October 2023.

“I Don’t Know Why (I Love You) by Stevie Wonder”.  Songfacts.  Accessed on 22 January 2024.

“”Scandal” Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (TV Episode 2013) – Soundtracks”.  IMDb.  Accessed on 22 January 2024.

Garth Cartwright.  “I Don’t Know Why – Where Did Stevie Wonder’s Howl of Teenage Angst Come From?”.  Financial Times.  16 May 2022.

johnniewalker23.  “Stevie Wonder – I Don’t Know Why”.  YouTube.  30 October 2007.

Connor Jones.  “Stevie Wonder I Don’t Know Why on TOTP”.  YouTube.  28 February 2019.

Ferrell Gaël.  “Jill Scott – I Don’t Know Why – Live Walk Of Fame Stevie Wonder Tribute – 2002”.  YouTube.  10 March 2019.

energytwirl.  “Stevie Wonder – I Don’t Know Why – Hollywood Palace 1969.mpg”.  YouTube.  21 June 2011.

The Jacksons.  “Don’t Know Why I Love You”.  YouTube.  3 August 2018.

The Rolling Stones.  “I Don’t Know Why (aka Don’t Know Why I Love You”.  YouTube.  7 November 2018.

Thelma Houston – Topic.  “Don’t Know Why I Love You”.  YouTube.  25 October 2018.

John Mellencamp.  “I Don’t Know Why I Love You”.  YouTube.  6 December 2018.

The Brand New Heavies.  “I Don’t Know Why I Love You”.  YouTube.  4 April 2020.

I Don’t Know Why

by Stevie Wonder (1968)

I Don’t Know Why

(live @ Hollywood Palace, 1969)

Don’t Know Why I Love You

by the Jackson 5 (1970)

I Don’t Know Why

by The Rolling Stones (1975)

Don’t Know Why I Love You

by Thelma Houston (1976)

I Don’t Know Why I Love You

by John Mellencamp (2003)

I Don’t Know Why (I Love You)

by The Brand New Heavies (2006)

I Don’t Know Why

by Jill Scott (2002)