Eric Clapton is rooted in blues, which is evident on this song where he tells his lover he can't stand her cheating and isn't going to put up with it anymore. Lyrically, it gets a bit repetitive - the title shows up 28 times.
Clapton wasn't known for hit singles (his cover of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff
" notwithstanding) but "I Can't Stand It" crossed over to pop radio and went to #10 on the Hot 100, a surprising showing.
"I Can't Stand It" was the first single from Clapton's seventh solo album, Another Ticket. He started recording the album with producer Glyn Johns, who was at the controls for his previous album, Backless, in 1978. Sessions were labored, and when Clapton turned it in, his record company, RSO, rejected it. So Clapton started over with producer Tom Dowd, who guided his classic 1970 Derek & the Dominos album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs. Moving the sessions to Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas, Clapton wrote and recorded new songs, including "I Can't Stand It." This time, the label was pleased and released the album on February 17, 1981.
Clapton added some new members to his band when he recorded this song, including Albert Lee on guitar and Gary Brooker
, formerly of Procol Harum, on keyboards. The band lasted only one album, but Clapton remained good friends with Brooker.
The song reached its chart peak in America in May 1981, two months before MTV went on the air. No doubt MTV would have loved to play a music video for "I Can't Stand It," but Clapton had no interest in the medium - he didn't make his first music video until 1985.
"I Can't Stand It" was released in February 1981, when Clapton launched his tour to support the Another Ticket album. They didn't get very far: Clapton was drinking heavily and his back hurt, so he was taking painkillers. The combination led to debilitating ulcers, and on March 14 when they flew into Minnesota for a show in Duluth, Clapton's team took him directly to the hospital, where he spent the next six weeks.
The ulcers nearly killed him - one was so big it could have burst at any time. The tour was cancelled and he stayed out of action for about seven months.
This also marked a milestone on Clapton's journey to recover from alcoholism. He didn't miss drinking during his stay at the hospital, but he went right back to it when he got out. Knowing his health was at risk, he entered rehab in January 1982. Clapton eventually got sober, but it took more trips to rehab to get there.
Clapton's album titles usually have some esoteric meaning. He called this one Another Ticket in honor of a friend who was always asking for another ticket to his shows.