Song Lyric Sunday — No Can Do

Jim Adams continues to host Song Lyric Sunday while Helen Vahdati is dealing with some health issues. This week’s theme is simply the word “no.” And, as a longtime fan of the glam-rock duo, Daryl Hall & John Oates, the song “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” immediately came to mind.

The song was written by Daryl Hall and John Oates, and co-written by Sara Allen. It was released in 1981 as the second single from their tenth studio album, Private Eyes. It became their fourth number one hit single on the Billboard Top 100. It hit number one on the R&B charts as well.

“I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” was a phrase Daryl Hall used when he was pressured to go along with the crowd against his wishes. After a recording session for the Private Eyes album, Hall, Oates, and engineer Neil Kernon improvised this song. Hall and his girlfriend, Sara Allen, fleshed our the lyrics.

John Oates said that what might sound like a guy telling off his significant other is actually “about the the music business.” He explained that it’s about not being pushed around by big labels, managers, and agents and being told what to do, and being true to yourself creatively. Calling it “typical of a lot of the lyrics we’ve written over the years,” Oates said, “It seems like it’s about one thing, but it’s really not. What we have always tried to do, and if we have any kind of philosophy for our lyrics over the years, it was to try to take a universal subject and somehow make it seem personal so that people could relate to it as if it was a personal thing.”

I found this explanation for the song interesting because I had always interpreted the song to be about a man not willing to make a commitment to a woman. Whether leaving his wife for his mistress, or marrying a girlfriend he just doesn’t want to marry. Either that or it was that his wife or girlfriend wanted him to do something really kinky and despite loving her, it just wasn’t something he was interested in. What do you think?

Here are the song’s 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..

10 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — No Can Do

  1. newepicauthor January 27, 2019 / 8:00 am

    Great song and I loved your explanation that the guy just wasn’t into pegging.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marleen January 27, 2019 / 9:19 am

    Maybe it’s a me too (in the business) type anthem. But his explanation makes sense as is as well. Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. msjadeli January 27, 2019 / 10:11 am

    Hall & Oates have had a lot of catchy tunes like this. Great choice for today’s prompt, Dango!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary B January 27, 2019 / 11:16 am

    Hall & Oates are a long time favorite of mine. Seriously. I used to have their posters on my wall as a teenager.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. J-Dub January 27, 2019 / 4:02 pm

    Interesting to know the backstory. The song I put up was also saying No to executives in the music business.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. oneletterup January 27, 2019 / 4:11 pm

    I have not listened to this song in ages. Great pic. Appreciate the backstory too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. leigha66 February 8, 2019 / 11:48 am

    I always thought it was about a man not committing… interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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