You Can't Do That

Album: A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Charted: 48
  • songfacts ®
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  • Lyrics
  • The Beatles recorded this in nine takes on George Harrison's 21st Birthday (in the same session as "And I Love Her" and "I Should Have Known Better"), although in May, producer George Martin overdubbed a piano making a 10th take that wasn't used. The one that saw the light of the day was Take 9. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ben - Cheverly, MD
  • This was filmed for the movie A Hard Day's Night, but did not make the cut. It was, however, included on the movie's soundtrack, which was released by the film's production company United Artists. Since United Artists had the soundtrack rights, The Beatles' American label, Capitol, released it as the B-side of "Can't Buy Me Love." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • John Lennon played lead guitar. He normally played rhythm while George Harrison played lead. Ringo played the cowbell.
  • This was the first Beatles song on which George Harrison played a 12-string guitar.
  • John Lennon told the British journalist Ray Connolly that this song was his attempt at being pioneering American soul singer Wilson Pickett.
  • Harry Nilsson covered this song on his 1967 debut album, Pandemonium Shadow Show as a tribute to The Beatles' music in general. It is performed at a slower tempo, and throughout the song lines from other Beatles songs are sung in counterpoint, ending with the line "Strawberry Beatles Forever." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    David - Mesa, AZ
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Comments: 43

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaWas John playing a Rick? or is George?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 20th 1964, the Beatles performed "You Can't Do That" on the British TV program 'Ready Steady Go!*; it was the quartet's first appearance on the show and they also performed "Can't Buy Me Love" and "It Won't Be Long"...
    Nine days later on March 29, 1965 "You Can't Do That" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #65*; the following week it peaked at #48 {for 1 week} and spent two more weeks on the Top 100, then fell off...
    The day it entered the Top 100 at #65, the Beatles' "Thank You Girl" also debut on the chart at #79...
    * At the time the A-side of "You Can't Do That", "Can't Buy Me Love", was at #1 on the Top 100.
  • Rotunda from Tulsa, OkThis is one heckuva catchy tune with cow-bells that drive me to ecstasy! That was in 1964 and Beatle-mania was going full blast all across the world. The Beatles' songs were just so good you couldn't get enough of them. That was when the British Invasion of other Brit bands started. It was a tough time for American stars, until summertime came & an American breakthrough occurred. But this song was so good. I still love it!!
  • Tom from St. Louis, FlThis is not the first Beatles song where George used his 12 string, that would be "Can't Buy Me Love."
    CBML had been recorded in Paris and in the interim George received his 12 string during the first American visit (Sullivan). Upon returning to England to record "You Can't Do That," they first put up "CBML" to finish some touches, and George was so excited over the 12 string he added it to the choruses. THEN they recorded "You Can't Do That."
  • Zero from Nowhere, NjApparently, this song influenced Weezer to write the song "Hash Pipe". They even nicked the line "I can't help my feelings, I'll go out of my mind".
  • David from Youngstown, OhA great early Beatles song. Harry Nilsson's version is incredible, and the Beatles, particularly John and Paul, loved it and made public comments praising Nilsson's debut album (the song appears on it).
  • Billy from West Unity, OhUMMMMM Nick from Canada....Lennon wrote the part about being cruel to his woman...Kinda like We Can Work It out, Lennon did the middle 8 there too. They had a number of songs like that. A Day in the Life is ,yet, another example. Only this time McCartney did the middle ( woke up fell out of bed...) Just thought you'd like to know.
  • Michael from Gloucester, Vai love the chorus "everybody's GREEEEEN, cause im the one who won your love, but if theyd SEEEEEN you talkin that way, theyd laugh in my face!" (my favorite part of the song)
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Mohas it occured to anyone how unfair it is, the number of records and "firsts" the beatles hold? the most commercially successful band of all time, the most-covered song *yesterday*, one of the first uses of a repetitive riff *day tripper*, the first british band to make it big in america, the first song to be sent directly into space *across the universe*....and, of course, the first use of a cowbell. ringo WOULD play a cowbell, wouldnt he?
  • John from Cranston, RiThis is one of those Beatles songs that when I first heard it I liked it as I do all Beatles songs but was just not sure what to make of it. It's different. The beat. The cowbell. The guitar licks and the darkness of the lyrics. But as time passed it grew on me more and more and now it is one of my very favorite Beatles songs. Brilliant and unique like the 4 boys themselves.
  • Rosario from Naples, Flgood song. great cowbell.
  • 3r1ca from Hollywood, FlJohn Lennons' relationship "issues" are a turn on! He,he!
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesNo offense, John Lennon. I repeat, NO OFFENSE. And I mean it.
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesHey Charlie from Cape Girardeau, if that's true about John Lennon, I wonder what happened if the other Beatles made John mad. If they made John mad and John had such issues, that would probably explain John's involvement in the Beatles' huge split-up. If that's the case, poor Paul and Ringo! That must be rough! Don't do that to me, John Lennon. I want you to know that I've no intention of putting you down, in case you're reading my comment.
  • Ken from Louisville, Ky"You Can't Do That" was restored to the DVD release of A Hard Days Night. During that song there was an audience shot that included a 13 year old Phil Collins, who was an aspiring British child actor at the time. Collins would later play on "All Things Must Pass" and became a good friend of George's.
  • Michael from OxfordWhenever I tell someone they (or I) "can't do that", I usually throw in that ow!!!!! just for good measure!

    Even if it's tempting afterwards to shout out I got blisters on my vocal cords!!!
  • Krissy from Boston, MaI love it. It is one of my very favorties. It's just catchy.
  • Pat from New York, NyI don't think that's true Nick.

    I read that John added the part "It Can't Get No Worse" to "Getting Better."

    It was his cynical addition to Paul's upbeat song.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoThis song reminds me a lot in style of the Beatles cover of Berry Gordy's Money (That's What I Want). It wouldn't surprise me if Lennon was trying to write a song similar to Money when he wrote this one.
  • Sal from Bardonia , Ny A 12 string rocker not in the style of the Searchers more like a mix of the Byrds and the Who also it has that lead rhythym guitar style with the solo to compliment the song and it's guitar sound is harsh for early 1964.
    Sal, Bardonia, NY
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoNick, yes, of course Paul was the primary author of Getting Better, but John said in an interview (probably the Playboy one) that he wrote the line about being cruel to one's woman and beating her. Considering the subject matter and how the melody changes (slightly but noticeably), it's easy to believe. He also said that that was all he had to do with the song, IIRC, so other than that you may very well be right (although legend has it, and Paul may have confirmed this, that John contributed "Can't get much worse" as well).
  • Nick from Moncton, CanadaUh... Paul wrote Getting Better, John had nothing to do with it.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoJo is right, and at the least this song depicts a rather unhealthy relationship. I find it interesting that even in their early phase of bubblegum music and a cherubic image, Lennon was already writing songs that revealed a lot about himself, including unpleasant things. He later admitted in song to beating his wife ("Getting Better"), but somehow it all came out as fun pop music!
  • Bob from Los Angeles, MsThe stereo version of this on Capitol Albums Volume 1 is "fake stereo" and sounds like crap. Did anyone else notice? It sort of pisses me off.
  • Alisa from Franklin, WiThis song should have been in A Hard Day's Night.
    It's just so awesome. John does a great job on the solo part.
  • Nick from Moncton, CanadaYou can find the video outtake from Hard Day's Night on youtube. Anyone notice that every song in that movie is about 1/2 step down because they slowed it all down?
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnAnd of course, it goes without saying-- More cowbell.
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnThe reason it was edited out of the movie A Hard Day's Night was that it was too dark. Next time you have a chance, listen to how upbeat and cheerful the songs are in that movie. In contrast, "You Can't Do That" is not merely about relationship sorrows, it's about anger. It's a fantastic record in which John Lennon actually makes you believe he's communicating something nasty that's on his mind. But that apparently wasn't the sort of acting job that movie director Dick Lester was looking for.
  • Charlie from Cape Girardeau, MoJo, if you find these lyrics disturbing, how about "Run For Your Life"? (I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to see you with another man) Lennon definitely had issues with control.
  • Tom from Freiburg, GermanyWhen you listen to the solo, you can tell that Lennon was a much rawer, bluesier player than Harrison. If you want to hear some pure Harrison guitar, get the "Beatles For Sale" album, which captures some great moments of Harrison on his Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar (e.g. "I don't want to spoil the party").
  • Barry from New York, NcYOU CAN'T DO THAT and I CALL YOUR NAME are almost twins, these two Lennon tunes have so much in common.
  • Carissa from La Mirada, CaI love this song as well. But remember John himself admitted to be controlling and abusive to his first wife Cynthia before he met yoko. It could be slightly reminscient of that. Nevertheless, it is a song that is very much under rated!
  • Jo-c from Lima, PeruJo, the song is about a dude who got the best girl in town, but the girl ends up flirting other guys. The controlled one is John. Amazing song with an amazing riff, I love it!
  • Jordan from Ontario, Canadafantastic song from my favourite Bealtes album. John sings that "oooohh" with so much soul.
  • Martijn from Helmond, NetherlandsThis was the B-side of the first record i ever bought, when I was 10 or so. I went into town with my dad and as we had just acquired our first record player he said, come on, let's go buy you a record. I wanted She Loves You, but it was sold out. The store clerk said this was their new single. I played this at least as often as the A-side. The Beatles only recorded A-sides anyway, no matter what side of the record they were on.
  • Jo from Toronto, CanadaThis is a very catchy tune, but I find the lyrics disturbing. They portray a man who is jealous, possessive and controlling to the point of being oppressive. John later talked about being "a jealous guy" in his solo work.
  • Alan from City, MiI agree that this song was under-rated!
  • Nn from Atlanta , GaOne of the best and heaviest early Beatles songs. Very underrated though.
  • Paulo from New York, NyAgreed, Adrian. This one begs for a cover version by somebody.
  • Shirley from Ocean, NjBut keep in mind, Andrew, who used the cow bell first. Of course it was the one and only Beatles.
  • Andrew from Springfield, MoHeh yeah but Don't fear the Reaper's cowbell kicks anyones ass
  • Adrian from Wilmington, DeThis song totally rocks and I'm surprised that in my seventeen years as a Beatle fan I just realized this last month!
  • Pete from Nowra, AustraliaRingo was hailed as the best cow bell player in the whole of the UK.
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