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

"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" is a song by American duo Hall & Oates. Written by Daryl Hall, John Oates and 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. It features Charles DeChant on saxophone.[3]

"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)"
Picture sleeve of British vinyl releases
Single by Daryl Hall & John Oates
from the album Private Eyes
B-side"Unguarded Minute"
ReleasedNovember 1981
RecordedMarch 1981
StudioElectric Lady, New York City
  • 5:09 (album version)
  • 4:14 (video edit)
  • 3:45 (single edit)
  • 6:05 (extended club mix)
Producer(s)Hall & Oates
Daryl Hall & 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



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.[3][4]

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.[5][6] The song is composed in the key of C minor (C major for the chorus).



Record World said that it "demonstrates the duo's versatility as pop craftsmen" and noted that there are many hooks.[7]



Chart performance


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.[8][9] "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.[10]

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 then-Hot Soul charts during all of 1982.[11] The single was certified Gold by the RIAA for shipments of one million units on January 7, 1982.[12] 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.[13] This single was also the first top 10 hit for the duo in the UK, peaking at number eight in the UK Singles Chart.[14] It was certified Silver by the BPI on March 1, 1982 for shipments of 250,000 units.[15]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[30] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[15] Silver 250,000^
United States (RIAA)[12] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.



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



The song has been sampled numerous times including in "Say No Go" by De La Soul,[31] "Sunrise" by Simply Red,[32] "The Final Hour" and "Take Me to Your Leader" by MF Doom (under the King Geedorah moniker),[33] and "On Hold" by The xx.[34] Anderson .Paak has stated that Dr Dre's "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" was originally also going to sample the song.[35]

Influence on "Billie Jean"


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."[3][36]

See also



  1. ^ Fenton, Will. "15 Best Hall & Oates Songs of All Time (Greatest Hits)". middermusic. The song features a classic 1980s synth-pop production, with a catchy chorus and an infectious beat.
  2. ^ 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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b c Eskow, Gary (April 1, 2006). "Classic Tracks: Hall & Oates "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)"". Mix. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  4. ^ Simpson, Dave (April 2, 2018). "Hall and Oates: how we made I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)". TheGuardian.com. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  5. ^ Something Else! (March 24, 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 November 27, 2014.
  6. ^ Kauffman, Leah (March 18, 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 November 27, 2014.
  7. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. November 7, 1981. p. 1. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  8. ^ "Hot 100". Billboard. November 14, 1981. p. 108. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Disco Top 80". Billboard. Vol. 94, no. 3. January 23, 1982. p. 42. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  11. ^ Greenberg, Steve (November 30, 2012). "Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' at 30: How One Album Changed the World". Billboard. Retrieved August 17, 2017. 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.
  12. ^ a b "American single certifications – Hall & Oates – I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Daryl Hall & John Oates – Chart history (CHR/Pop Airplay)". wweb.uta.edu. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Daryl Hall & John Oates: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  15. ^ a b "British single certifications – Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can't Go for That". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  16. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0460." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  17. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. February 13, 1982. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  18. ^ "Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  19. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – I Can't Go for That". Irish Singles Chart.
  20. ^ "Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  21. ^ "Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  22. ^ "Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)". Singles Top 100. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  23. ^ "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  24. ^ "Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart". Billboard. January 30, 1982. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  25. ^ "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  26. ^ "National Top 100 Singles for 1982". Kent Music Report. January 3, 1983. Retrieved January 22, 2023 – via Imgur.
  27. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on August 11, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  28. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1982/Top 100 Songs of 1982". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  29. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  30. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Hall & Oates – No Can Do". Music Canada. Retrieved August 3, 2023.
  31. ^ "De La Soul – 10 of the best". The Guardian. August 31, 2016. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  32. ^ Jeffries, David. "Home - Simply Red". AllMusic. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  33. ^ "Les samples de l'album Private eyes de Hall oates". Du-Bruit (in French). Retrieved December 21, 2021.
  34. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (November 10, 2016). "The xx Share New Song "On Hold," Sample Hall and Oates: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  35. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Dr. Dre's Collaborator Says "Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang" Was Originally Recorded As A Disco-Pop Record". AllHipHop. October 8, 2015. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  36. ^ Hall, Daryl (July 10, 2009). "Michael Jackson Remembered: Daryl Hall on the Ultimate Video Star". The Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 9, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2010.