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Just One of Those Things (1935)

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Origin and Chart Information
“...Armstrong delivers an irresistible vocal and follows it up with some spunky trumpet playing.”

- Noah Baerman

AKAIt Was Just One of Those Things
Rank 74
Words and Music Cole Porter

June Knight and Charles Walters introduced “Just One of Those Things” in the Broadway musical Jubilee, which opened on October 12, 1935, at the Imperial Theatre and ran for 169 performances. Jubilee was a political satire about a deposed king and queen forced to go incognito in their own country.


More on June Knight at JazzBiographies.com

More on Charles Walters at JazzBiographies.com

Jubilee was one of ten musicals opening that year, some of which included Jumbo, Porgy and Bess, and May Wine. Not one of these made a profit. The Great Depression was partially responsible for the show’s commercial failure, but more to blame were the mixed critical reviews and public reaction to Moss Hart’s script and Cole Porter’s lyrics which were full of inside jokes about their famous friends. This practice was not unusual for either writer. With regard to Porter, Robert Benchley once said that his lyrics often seemed to have been written with “an eye to pleasing perhaps eighteen people.” The end came when Jubilee’s star, Mary Boland, left for Hollywood.

Other songs included in Cole Porter’s score were “The Kling-Kling Bird on the Divi-Divi Tree,” “When Love Comes Your Way,” “Me and Marie,” “A Picture of Me Without You,” “Begin the Beguine,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” and “Why Shouldn’t I?”


More on Cole Porter at JazzBiographies.com

Less than two months after the opening of Jubilee, the recording of “Just One of Those Things” by Richard Himber and His Orchestra (Stuart Allen, vocal) made the record charts, rising to number ten. Peggy Lee’s 1952 rendition (accompanied by The Gordon Jenkins Orchestra) rose to number fourteen.


Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

More information on this tune...

Charles Schwartz
Cole Porter: A Biography
Da Capo Press; 1st Pbk edition
Paperback: 365 pages

(Author Schwartz touches on the history of the song in his biography of the songwriter.)
See the Reading and Research panel below for more references.

- Jeremy Wilson

Music and Lyrics Analysis

The lyrics to “Just One of Those Things” convey an attitude of cool sophistication. The verse is comic, and there is plenty of Porter’s trademark inner rhyming in the refrain. In fact, this song of lost love is anything but sentimental. The romance is over but that’s no reason to show childish emotion: Why not take the philosophical high road and reduce the whole affair to a dismissive, colloquial phrase?

Porter’s music reflects the same lack of sentiment with its up-tempo pace and intermittent bursts of energy. It begs for a casual delivery. In a review of the Porter musical, High Society, theater critic Charles Isherwood comments, “[Daniel] McDonald does sing pleasantly, but his earnest delivery of “Just One of Those Things” is a lesson in how not to handle a Cole Porter song … By contrast, for a lesson in Porter perfection, there’s the delightful John McMartin … Like Fred Astaire, [James] Stewart and others, McMartin proves with his insouciant, offhand delivery of “I’m Getting Myself Ready for You” and “Say It With Gin” that it’s not vocal prowess but elan that Porter tunes require.” - JW

Musical analysis of “Just One of Those Things”

Original Key D minor; false key changes to Eb major and Cmajor during the “B” section
Form A1 – A2 – B – A3
Tonality “A” is primarily minor; “B” is primarily major
Movement “A” is generally downward, interspersed with occasional upward leaps. “B” has scale-wise and chromatic movement upward in different ranges of the melody with occasional upward leaps.

Comments     (assumed background)

This is one of the more challenging pieces in the repertoire, with harmonic substitutions that never quite resolve in an expected way until the end. The song starts with a i – ii7(b5) – V5, but instead of resolving to the tonic, it goes to the relative major (to which this song finally resolves at the end), continuing in this key before returning to the original key for the second “A” section.

Modulating to the new key of the “B” section, this relative major (F major in the original) turns to parallel minor, becoming the ii7 of the new key, which is a half-step up from the initial tonic key (i.e., Eb in the key of D minor). Eight measures later, the new key lands on its own vii7 (corresponding to the initial tonic, but unrecognizable in this context), or aii7 of the next key built on the seventh of the initial tonic (in the original, C major). Porter follows this with a descending progression that ends on a common-tone diminished chord built on the flatted third scale degree of the key of the moment (Eb in the original). This resolves to a ii7 – V7 in what the ear expects to be F major (relative major of the initial key). Instead, Porter surprises us yet again by going directly back to the initial key of D minor. (Some theorists might regard the C major chord at this point as a substitution for V7 or v.) The three “A” sections are all subtly different; they are identical except for the penultimate phrases: “one of those bells,” followed by “a trip to the moon,” and ending with “it was great fun”. In each case, each italicized word comes at a higher pitch than its predecessor.

This all may seem intimidating at first and may be part of the reason that bebop pioneers were the first artists to explore the possibilities of this piece in a jazz context. Nevertheless, careful study of this tune shows that the harmonic progression does, indeed, follow most of the orthodox “rules” of voice leading. The serious jazz player should learn the head thoroughly, analyze the changes for the strong guide-tone lines present, and trust his/her aural sensibilities of what sounds right.

K. J. McElrath - Musicologist for JazzStandards.com

Check out K. J. McElrath’s book of Jazz Standards Guide Tone Lines at his web site (www.bardicle.com).
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Soundtrack information
“Just One of Those Things” was included in these films:
  • Panama Hattie (1942, Lena Horne)
  • Night and Day (1945, Ginny Simms)
  • Lullaby Of Broadway (1951, Doris Day)
  • The Jazz Singer (1953, Peggy Lee)
  • Young at Heart (1955, Frank Sinatra)
  • Can-Can (1960, Maurice Chevalier)
  • At Long Last Love (1975, Burt Reynolds)
  • De-Lovely (2004, Diana Krall)
Reading and Research
Additional information for "Just One of Those Things" may be found in:

David Ewen
American Songwriters: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary
H. W. Wilson
Hardcover: 489 pages

(1 paragraph including the following types of information: history and performers.)

Thomas S. Hischak
The American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 568 pages

(1 paragraph including the following types of information: summary.)

Max Morath
The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Popular Standards
Perigee Books
Paperback: 235 pages

(1 paragraph including the following types of information: history and performers.)

Charles Schwartz
Cole Porter: A Biography
Da Capo Press; 1st Pbk edition
Paperback: 365 pages

(1 paragraph including the following types of information: history.)

Robert Kimball, Brendan Gill
Cole: A Biographical Essay
Overlook Press
Hardcover: 283 pages

(Includes the following types of information: song lyrics.)

Robert Gottlieb, Robert Kimball
Reading Lyrics
Hardcover: 736 pages

(Includes the following types of information: song lyrics.)

Gerald Mast
Can't Help Singin'
Overlook Press; Rei edition
Paperback: 400 pages

(1 paragraph including the following types of information: lyric analysis.)
Also on This Page...

Music & Lyrics Analysis
Musician's Comments
Reading & Research

Jazz History Notes
Getting Started
CD Recommendations
Listen and Compare
By the Same Writers...

Jazz History Notes

Pianist Garland Wilson (1909-1954) was not a well-known figure in jazz, but his 1936 recording of “Just One of Those Things,” made in London, shows he was well-versed in the Harlem stride piano style as he rips through the tune.

A splendid 1944 recording features the great pianist Teddy Wilson along with Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), John Kirby (bass) and Sid Catlett on drums---an all-star group that gives Cole Porter’s song a first-class treatment.

Wilson was on hand again for a session by the Benny Goodman Sextet, including vibraphonist Red Norvo, in 1945, and the following year Teddy recorded the number with his own all-star octet.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

Garland Wilson
Classic 808

Benny Goodman
Slipped Disc, 1945-46

Coleman Hawkins
Classic 842

Teddy Wilson
Classics 997

Getting Started
This section suggests definitive or otherwise significant recordings that will help jazz students get acquainted with “Just One of Those Things.” These recordings have been selected from the Jazz History and CD Recommendations sections.

Louis Armstrong’s 1957 version of “Just One of Those Things” with Oscar Peterson (Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson) is a delightful place to start when exploring this tune, faithful yet predictably full of spunk. The tune’s compatibility with burning up-tempo performances, meanwhile, is best observed on classic recordings by Bud Powell’s trio (Complete Bud Powell on Verve) and by Max Roach’s quintet with Sonny Rollins (Max Roach Plus Four).

Noah Baerman - Jazz Pianist and Educator

CD Recommendations for This Tune
Click on any CD for more details at Amazon.com
Max Roach
Plus Four
Polygram Records
Original Recording 1956
This recording documents drummer Roach’s triumphant return to the studio after the tragic deaths in a car accident of his trumpet player Clifford Brown and pianist Richie Powell. With Kenny Dorham and Ray Bryant on board in their places, the group unleashes a jaw-droppingly fast version of “Just One of Those Things,” featuring a particularly blazing solo turn from Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone.
Gil Evans
Gil Evans and Ten
Original Jazz Classics 346
Original recording 1957
Evans’ quirky arrangement and the swinging work of his band are noteworthy here, but the real star is soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. Lacy, who would record his solo debut the following month, is the featured soloist here and already shows the unique style that would make him a major influence on his instrument.
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson
1997 Verve 539060
Original recording 1957
With expert backing from pianist Peterson and his quartet, Armstrong delivers an irresistible vocal and follows it up with some spunky trumpet playing.
Bud Powell
Complete Bud Powell on Verve
Polygram Records
Original recording 1955
Powell is heard here still in his prime, ripping through “Just One of Those Things” in an up-tempo solo piano performance that shows his stunning dexterity and mastery of improvisation over chord changes.
Cannonball Adderley
Things Are Getting Better
Original Recording 1958
Saxophonist Adderley and vibraphonist Milt Jackson were two of the hardest-swinging players in jazz history, and the expectations of their collaboration are fulfilled wonderfully on their version of “Just One of Those Things.” The presence of Wynton Kelly, Percy Heath and Art Blakey certainly does not hurt either.

- Noah Baerman

Randy Weston
Solo, Duo & Trio
2000 Milestone Records 47085
Original recording 1950
These recently reissued, early recordings show the influence of Thelonious Monk and the Africanisms that Weston would develop fully during his years in Nigeria. “Just One of Those Things” is light as feather in tandem with bassist Sam Gill.
Joanne Brackeen
Havin' Fun
1990, Concord 280
Original recording, 1985
In a wildly uptempo version with Cecil McBee (bass) and Al Foster (drums) Brackeen clusters chords and runs up and down the keys with abandon. She’s havin’ fun. A small complaint concerns the way several of the cuts fade out instead of coming to completion.
Susannah McCorkle
Easy to Love: Songs of Cole Porter
1996, Concord 4696

The vocal/guitar combination on “Just One of Those Things” lends a heartbreaking air to the song. McCorkle sings straight-ahead and with wonderful accompaniment throughout.

- Sandra Burlingame

Rosemary Clooney ...
Sings the Music of Cole Porter
1992, Concord 4185
Original recording, 1985
Ms. Clooney shows a deep understanding of Porter's music, both his rollicking sense of humor and his tender emotion. Backing the vocalist are Scott Hamilton (ts), Warren Vache (t), Jake Hanna (d), Nat Pierce (p), and Cal Tjader on vibes.
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, Vol. 1
Polygram Records
Original recording 1956
Porter was one of the best songwriters and Ella was one of the best jazz singers, making this a match made in heaven. Buddy Bregman conducts the orchestra.

- Jon Luthro

Written by the Same Composer(s)...
This section shows the jazz standards written by the same writing team.

Cole Porter

Year Rank Title
1930 8 What Is This Thing Called Love?
1930 30 Love for Sale
1932 33 Night and Day
1935 74 Just One of Those Things
1944 119 I Love You
1936 122 Easy to Love
1934 139 I Get a Kick Out of You
1936 160 I've Got You Under My Skin
1942 188 You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To
1937 209 In the Still of the Night
1944 220 Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
1935 247 Begin the Beguine
1953 279 It's All Right with Me
1939 290 I Concentrate on You
1954 356 All of You
1950 390 From This Moment On
1938 410 Get Out of Town
1948 443 So in Love (Am I)
1934 509 All Through the Night
1953 553 I Love Paris
1938 584 My Heart Belongs to Daddy
1929 734 You Do Something to Me
1934 754 Anything Goes
1941 773 Ev'rything I Love
1928 797 Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)
1937 909 At Long Last Love
1941 910 Dream Dancing
1937 939 Rosalie
1934 940 You're the Top

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