I Can't Tell You Why

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"I Can't Tell You Why"
Single by Eagles
from the album The Long Run
B-side "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks"
Released February 8, 1980
Format 7"
Genre Blue-eyed soul,[1] soft pop, disco
Length 4:30 (7")
4:56 (LP)
Label Asylum Records
Writer(s) Timothy B. Schmit, Glenn Frey, Don Henley
Producer(s) Bill Szymczyk
Eagles singles chronology
"The Long Run"
"I Can't Tell You Why"
"Seven Bridges Road"

"I Can't Tell You Why" is a song by the American rock band Eagles which appeared on their 1979 album The Long Run. The song was written by band members Timothy B. Schmit, Glenn Frey, and Don Henley. Recorded in March 1978, it was the first song finished for the album and the first Eagles song to feature Schmit on lead vocals.[2] The studio version became a Billboard Top 10 hit in April 1980, reaching #8 on the Hot 100 and number 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.[3]


Timothy B. Schmit – who describes "I Can't Tell You Why" as "loosely based on my own experiences"[4] – composed the nucleus of "I Can't Tell You Why" which he then presented to Glenn Frey and Don Henley: Schmit – "I had some writing sessions with Don and Glenn and I threw out a bunch of my ideas and that one [for "I Can't Tell You Why"] stuck. I had [composed] a pretty good part of it, not a huge part but enough for them to think 'That could be good' and go with it. So Don, Glenn and I finished it over a few all night sessions."[5] "When it was being developed in the studio...I knew it was a great song. I [thought] 'Yes! This is an amazing debut for me.' When we finally mixed it, we had a little listening party at the studio. As people were hearing it, Don turned to me and said, 'There's your first hit.'"[6] Schmit himself played bass on the track but believes Frey devised the distinctive bass riff. (Schmit – "I would guess that might have been a Glenn thing, but I don't really remember.")[5]

In 1980 the band promoted the song with a music video which featured Schmit on bass guitar accompanied by Frey on the electric piano, although Frey recorded the guitar solos as it is printed on the LP inside sleeve (Joe Walsh played all the keyboard parts on the actual studio recording), with Henley on the drums, Don Felder on the electric guitar, Joe Walsh on the organ and Walsh's touring sideman Joe Vitale on synthesizer. Live versions of the song were released in the 1980 album Eagles Live and 1994's Hell Freezes Over.

Schmit also performed "I Can't Tell You Why" while on tour as a member of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band in 1992. Their performance of the song was included on the 1993 live album Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band Volume 2: Live from Montreux.

Track listing[edit]

  • 7" single (45-1965/AS 12.418/K 12418/E-46608)[7]
Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "I Can't Tell You Why"   Frey, Henley, Schmit 4:30
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
2. "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks"   Frey, Henley 2:20
  • 7" promo (E-46608)[7]
Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "I Can't Tell You Why" (Mono) Frey, Henley, Schmit 4:30
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
2. "I Can't Tell You Why" (Stereo) Frey, Henley, Schmit 4:30



  • Glenn Frey: Lead guitar, Backing vocals
  • Don Felder: Rhythm guitar
  • Don Henley: Drums, Backing vocals
  • Timothy B. Schmit: Bass guitar, Lead vocals
  • Joe Walsh: Organ, Electric piano, String synthesizer (Walsh played all keyboard parts on the studio recording.)


  1. ^ http://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/music/2014/09/30/eagles-albums-best-hotel-california-one-nights/16485703/
  2. ^ Ruhlmann, William. The Long Run at AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 84. ISBN 0898201497. 
  4. ^ "Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles". SongFacts.com. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "The Eagles Timothy B. Schmit talks about The Long Run, his solo career & life as an Eagle". LegendaryRockInterviews.com. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Interview: Timothy B. Schmit on playing with The Eagles, solo touring". MusicRadar.com. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "I Can't Tell You Why" at Discogs (list of releases)
  8. ^ Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles at AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  9. ^ From the Bottom Up at AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
  10. ^ The Very Best of Howard Hewett at AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-02-25.

External links[edit]