I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)

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"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)"
Single by Hall & Oates
from the album Private Eyes
Released December 14, 1981
Format 7", 12"
Recorded March 1981
Genre Pop, funk, blue-eyed soul, soft rock, jazz
Length 3:39 (7" DJ edit)
3:50 (7" remix)
5:09 (album version)
6:04 (12" single)
Label RCA
Writer(s) Daryl Hall, John Oates, Sara Allen
Producer(s) Hall & Oates
Hall & Oates singles chronology
"Private Eyes"
(1981)
"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)"
(1981)
"Did It in a Minute"
(1981)

"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" is a 1981 song recorded by Daryl Hall and John Oates.

It was the fourth number-one hit single of their career on the Billboard Hot 100 and the second hit single from their album Private Eyes. It features Charles DeChant on saxello.[1]

On January 30, 1982, "I Can't Go for That" ended a 10-week run at the top of the Hot 100 by Olivia Newton-John's song, "Physical" (which had knocked out Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes" from the top spot). The song also went to number one on the Hot Dance Club Play chart for one week in January 1982.

Thanks to heavy airplay on urban contemporary radio stations, "I Can't Go for That" also topped the U.S. R&B chart, a rare feat for a White act. According to the Hall and Oates biography, Hall, upon learning that "I Can't Go For That" had gone to number one on the R&B chart, wrote in his diary, "I'm the head soul brother in the U.S. Where to now?"

"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" is one of 14 Hall and Oates songs that have been played on the radio over one million times, according to BMI.

Composition[edit]

Daryl Hall sketched out the basic song one evening at a music studio in New York City, in 1981, after a recording session for the Private Eyes album. Hall began to play a bass line on a Korg organ, and sound engineer Neil Kernon recorded the result. Hall then came up with a guitar riff, which he and Oates worked on together. The next day, Hall, Oates and Sara Allen worked on the lyrics.[1]

Speaking about the meaning of the lyrics, John Oates has stated that while many listeners may assume the lyrics are about a relationship, in reality, the song "is about the music business. That song is really about not being pushed around by big labels, managers, and agents and being told what to do, and being true to yourself creatively." This was done intentionally, he explained, to universalize the topic of the song into something everyone could relate to and ascribe personal meaning to in their own way. Naming "Maneater" as another example, he revealed that this was a common theme for the group's songs.[2][3]

Awards and accolades[edit]

"I Can't Go for That" was voted number six on VH1's list of "The 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s."

Covers[edit]


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The song has been covered by numerous recording artists, including Brian McKnight (June 23, 1992), The Nylons,[when?] Les Go (with Alfredo Alias),[when?] Donny Osmond,[when?] East End,[when?] KansasCali (September 20, 2005), Orson (2006), Peniston.[when?][citation needed]

In 2010, The Bird and the Bee covered this song for their tribute album Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates.

Olivia Ong recorded a Bossa Nova based cover version on her 2010 album.

The cast of Glee sang the song as a mash-up with "You Make My Dreams", also by Hall & Oates.[citation needed]

This song was also covered by Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers in their very successful "Van Sessions" series,[when?] which they recorded while driving from one gig to the next. It became a viral hit on YouTube and features Ms. Bluhm not only singing, but in addition playing the sax solo on a kazoo while driving the van. This version has actually been endorsed by Hall and Oates.[citation needed]

Influence on "Billie Jean"[edit]

According to Daryl Hall, during the recording of “We Are the World”, Michael Jackson approached him and admitted to lifting the bass line for "Billie Jean" from a Hall and Oates song, apparently referring to "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)." Hall says that he told Jackson that he had lifted the bass line from another song himself, and that it was "something we all do."[1][4][5]

Samples and interpolations in other songs[edit]

The original track has often been sampled in R&B and hip-hop songs. The following is a partial list:[6]

Some songs have included a vocal interpolation of the chorus, including:

Other songs have included a re-recorded variation of the song's famous descending arpeggio, including:

Additionally, the JP/PAL Version of Sonic CD's Boss music beat is sampled from this song.[citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1981–82) Peak
position
Canadian Singles Chart 2
Netherlands Singles Chart 13
New Zealand Singles Chart 5
Swedish Singles Chart 10
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 8
US Billboard Hot 100 1
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 1
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs 1
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 12

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Classic Tracks: Hall & Oates "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)", Gary Eskow, Mix Online, April 1, 2006
  2. ^ Something Else! (24 March 2014). "Hall and Oates’ ‘I Can’t Go For That’ isn’t about what you think it’s about; neither is ‘Maneater’". Something Else!. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Kauffman, Leah (18 March 2014). "John Oates on his new album, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and what 'I Can't Go For That' is really about". Philly.com. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Classic Tracks: Hall & Oates "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)", Gary Eskow, Mix Online, April 1, 2006 "Listening to 'I Can't Go for That' after letting it drift out of the mind for a while, one can clearly identify this track — one of the first pop hits to feature a drum machine — as a precursor to Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean' and the generation of songs built on drum machine tracks that came in its wake. “No question about it,” Hall agrees. “Michael Jackson once said directly to me that he hoped I didn't mind that he copped that groove. That's okay; it's something we all do. [Eddie] Van Halen told me that he copied the synth part from ‘Kiss on My List’ and used it in ‘Jump.’ I don't have a problem with that at all."
  5. ^ Hall, Daryl (July 10, 2009). "Michael Jackson Remembered: Daryl Hall on the Ultimate Video Star". The Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 15, 2010. "He sort of clung to Diana Ross pretty much, but at one point I was off to the side and he came over to me and said, 'I hope you don't mind, but I stole Billie Jean from you,' and I said, 'It's all right, man, I just ripped the base line off, so can you!'"
  6. ^ "SamplesDB — Hall & Oats's Tracks". Retrieved April 4, 2009. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Physical" by Olivia Newton-John
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
January 30, 1982
Succeeded by
"Centerfold" by The J. Geils Band
Preceded by
"Turn Your Love Around" by George Benson
Billboard Hot Soul Singles number-one single
January 30, 1982
Succeeded by
"Call Me" by Skyy
Preceded by
"Wordy Rappinghood" / "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
January 23, 1982
Succeeded by
"You're the One for Me " by D. Train