Best Songs: Hall & Oates 'I Can't Go For That'

4/1/13

One early-80s evening in New York City, Daryl Hall switched on a Roland CompuRhythm and started improvising a bass line over the 'Rock 'n' Roll' preset. Ten minutes later, once he had a chord progression down, Hall told John Oates to noodle a riff over the rhythm section. The next day, Hall wrote the lyrics, cut the vocals and, just like that, today's Best Songs Ever was complete:

I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)” is lifted from Hall & Oates' tenth studio album, Private Eyes. The song was #1 for an incredible ten weeks. In January 1982, it was finally knocked from the top of the charts by Olivia Newton John's “Physical.” “I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)” also hit the #1 spot on the R&B charts, which was a rare feat for a white artist at the time. The song has since tallied over one million radio plays, according to BMI.

“I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)” has been covered Nicki Bluhm (who is Hall & Oates approved), sampled by Simply Red (who is also Hall & Oates approved) and copped by Michael Jackson (who is also, also Hall & Oates approved, even if he did confess to stealing the bass line for “Billie Jean"). Nowadays, the song is mostly synonymous with The Mighty Boosh's Bob Fossil (who is BitCandy approved, to say the least):

In 2008, an incredibly coiffed Hall & Oates returned to The Troubadour in Los Angeles, 35 years after they first performed there as a support act. In exchange for a $200 ticket, fans were treated to a hit-filled set list, which of course included “I Can't Go For That (No Can Do).” Before we go! Do you have a suggestion for BitCandy's Best Songs Ever column? Comment below, or over at the Facebook (feel free to 'like' us while you are there):

Lyrics

Easy, ready, willing, overtime
Where does it stop
Where do you dare me
To draw the line
You've got the body
Now you want my soul
Don't even think about it
Say, no go
I, I-I, I 'll do anything
That you want me to do
Yeah, I, I-I, I'll do almost anything
That you want me too, ooh
Yeah

But I can't go for that, nooo
(No)
No can do
I can't go for that, nooo
(No)
No can do
I can't go for that, nooo
(No)
No can do
I can't go for that
Can't go for that
Can't go for that
Can't go for that

I can go for being twice as nice
I can go for just repeating
The same old lines
Use the body
Now you want my soul
Ooh, forget about it
Now say, no go

I, I-I, I 'll do anything
That you want me to do
Yeah, I, I-I, I'll do almost anything
That you want me too, ooh
Yeah

But I can't go for that, nooo
(No)
No can do
I can't go for that, nooo
(No)
No can do
I can't go for that, nooo
(No)
No can do
I can't go for that
Can't go for that
Can't go for that
Can't go for that, yeah

[Instrumental Interlude]

Yeah, I, I-I, I 'll do anything
That you want me to do
Yeah, I, I-I, I'll do almost anything
That you want me too, ooh
Yeah

But I can't go for that, nooo
(No)
No can do
I can't go for that, nooo
(No)
No can do
I can't go for that, nooo
(No)
No can do
I can't go for that
Can't go for that
Can't go for that
Can't go for that, yeah..