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

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"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)"
Cover art for British vinyl releases
Single by Daryl Hall and John Oates
from the album Private Eyes
B-side"Unguarded Minute"
ReleasedDecember 14, 1981
RecordedMarch 1981
  • 5:09 (album version)
  • 4:14 (video edit)
  • 3:45 (single edit)
  • 6:05 (extended club mix)
Producer(s)Hall & Oates
Daryl Hall and John Oates singles chronology
"Private Eyes"
"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)"
"Did It in a Minute"
Music video
"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" on YouTube

"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" is a song by the American duo Daryl Hall and John Oates. Written by Daryl Hall and John Oates, and co-written by Sara Allen, the song was released as the second single from their tenth studio album, Private Eyes (1981). The song became the fourth number-one hit single of their career on the Billboard Hot 100 and the second hit single from Private Eyes. It features Charles DeChant on saxophone.[2]

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


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 started the Rock 1 setting on Roland CompuRhythm then began playing 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.[2][3]

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.[4][5]


Chart performance[edit]

The single debuted at number 59 on the Hot 100 the week of November 14, 1981 as the highest debut of the week and after eleven weeks, on January 30, 1982, it reached the top of the chart, staying there for a week.[6][7] "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.[8]

Thanks to heavy airplay on urban contemporary radio stations, "I Can't Go for That" also topped the US R&B chart, a rare feat for a white act. It was the only record to hit number one on both the Hot 100 and R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts during all of 1982.[9] The single was certified Gold by the RIAA for shipments of one million units on January 7, 1982.[10] According to the Hall & 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?"

It also peaked at number one on the Radio & Records CHR/Pop Airplay chart on December 18, 1981, staying at the top of the chart for six weeks and remaining on it for fifteen weeks, making it their biggest hit on the R&R airplay chart.[11] This single was also the first top 10 hit for the duo in the UK, peaking at number eight in the UK Singles Chart.[12] It was certified Silver by the BPI on March 1, 1982 for shipments of 200,000 units.[13]

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."

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 & 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."[2][25][26] Van Halen would also do something similar by lifting the synthesizer used in "Kiss On My List" for their hit "Jump".


The song has been sampled numerous times by rap/hip-hop artists as well as by pop artists, including:

Usage in pop culture[edit]

The song was used in the 2015 movie Aloha.* [1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Childers, Chad; March 8 2015. "Hear Metallica Get Mashed Up With Hall & Oates". "...with Hall & Oates' light rock radio standard, "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)." –Loudwire.
  2. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
  3. ^ Simpson, Dave (2018-04-02). "Hall and Oates: how we made I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)". Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Hot 100". Billboard: 108. November 14, 1981. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Disco Top 80". Billboard. 94 (3): 42. January 23, 1982. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  9. ^ Greenberg, Steve (November 30, 2012). "Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' at 30: How One Album Changed the World". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-08-17. In fact, the only record to hit No. 1 on both the pop and black charts during all of 1982 was by a white act: "I Can't Go For That" by Hall & Oates.
  10. ^ "American single certifications – Hall & Oates – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Daryl Hall & John Oates – Chart history (CHR/Pop Airplay)". wweb.uta.edu. Retrieved 2017-08-16.
  12. ^ a b "Daryl Hall & John Oates: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  13. ^ "British single certifications – Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  14. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0460." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  15. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  16. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  17. ^ "Charts.nz – Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  18. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)". Singles Top 100. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  19. ^ "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  20. ^ "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  21. ^ "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  22. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  23. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  24. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1982/Top 100 Songs of 1982". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  25. ^ Eskow, Gary (April 1, 2006). "Classic Tracks: Hall & Oates "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)"". Mix Online. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  26. ^ Hall, Daryl (July 10, 2009). "Michael Jackson Remembered: Daryl Hall on the Ultimate Video Star". The Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  27. ^ Dichoso, Sheila (July 1, 2011). "Top 7 Hall & Oates-Sampled Hip-Hop Songs". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved September 24, 2018.

External links[edit]