Beatles – You Can’t Do That

I love B-sides and this is a good one. I liked You Can’t Do That much better than the A-side Can’t Buy Me Love.

John Lennon never liked his voice. He always wanted George Martin to add echo or anything else to cover it up. I never understood that…for me John was one of the best rock and roll singers out there. His thin nasal voice cut through the music and cuts into you.

I first heard this song on a 1976 compilation album Rock and Roll Music. That was my second ever Beatles album. Capital put together one of the worse covers ever for that album.

Beatles Rock and Roll Music front and backBeatles Rock and Roll Music Gatefold

The cover made the Beatles look like they were from the 50s. A very few of the songs on the album were covers of 50s songs. Ringo Starr said: “It made us look cheap and we never were cheap. All that Coca-Cola and cars with big fins was the Fifties!” John Lennon told Capitol that the cover looked like a Monkees reject. He offered to design the cover but was declined. That doesn’t mean the album didn’t contain great music…a double album full of some great songs.

You Can’t Do That helped popularized the two-measure guitar riff…. a guitar riff that opens a song and continues through it. It laid the foundation for modern rock… with artists such as The Stones to Nirvana. The Beatles would use this frequently in songs such as I Feel Fine, Ticket To Ride, Day Tripper, If I Needed Someone, Paperback Writer and I Want To Tell You. The Stones made a career of it.

The song originally appeared on the UK soundtrack of A Hard Days Night. They recorded this in nine takes on George Harrison’s 21st birthday (February 25, 1964). The song was the B side to Can’t Buy Me Love but managed to peak at #48 in the Billboard 100 and #33 in Canada in 1964. Harry Nilsson covered it in 1967 and that version peaked at #10 in Canada.

This was the first Beatles song on which George Harrison played a 12-string guitar… John played the lead. Lennon said that Wilson Pickett was an influence on this song.

You Can’t Do That

I got something to say that might ’cause you pain
If I catch you talking to that boy again
I’m gonna let you down
And leave you flat
Because I told you before, oh
You can’t do that

Well, it’s the second time I’ve caught you talking to him
Do I have to tell you one more time, I think it’s a sin
I think I’ll let you down (let you down)
And leave you flat
(Gonna let you down and leave you flat)
Because I’ve told you before, oh
You can’t do that

Everybody’s green
‘Cause I’m the one, who won your love
But if they’d seen
You’re talking that way they’d laugh in my face

So please listen to me, if you wanna stay mine
I can’t help my feelings, I’ll go out of my mind
I’m gonna let you down (let you down)
And leave you flat
(Gonna let you down and leave you flat)
Because I’ve told you before, oh, you can’t do that

You can’t do that
You can’t do that
You can’t do that
You can’t do that
You can’t do that

Everybody’s green
‘Cause I’m the one who won your love
But if they’d seen
You’re talking that way they’d laugh in my face

So please listen to me, if you wanna stay mine
I can’t help my feelings, I’ll go out of my mind
I’m gonna let you down (let you down)
And leave you flat
(Gonna let you down and leave you flat)
Because I’ve told you before, oh
You can’t do that

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

30 thoughts on “Beatles – You Can’t Do That”

  1. Ha Ha! It’s so ironic – me, with a declared ‘meh’ attitude to The Beatles, has I think just two Beatles records in my collection… one of which is the ‘Rock ‘n’Roll’ one which I love … and seems the band didn’t! 😀 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh the music on it is fine…its that God awful album cover… But the sound Capitol got on this isn’t great. The Red and Blue albums were probably the best at that time.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I think The Beatles and The Rolling Stones “flipped the script” on the standard up to that time, which was beg and plead with females to notice them, to you’re lucky I put up with you. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but it works.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. quite a good one, showed some progression already that early on. Interesting trivia about it being the first for George to play 12-string on. The Rock’n’Roll album – I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. It’s not so much that it’s terrible per se, but it is totally wrong for the music! If it was a 50s compilation of kind of surf music, it would be quite a decent cover with that gatefold (is that the term?) …but how did they think it was related to the Beatles, LOL?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That is what they were mad at…great music and yea they do a few 50s covers but not THAT much! It looks like it belonged to American Graffiti

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It looks like that pink Chuck Berry double album some ‘friend’ lent from my collection when I was in an agreeable mood (Ie; stupidly merry- too much Miller Time?)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Max what a great write up on the album and that song. Yes, that is an icky looking cover! Shabby and misrepresents them badly. Simply put, music doesn’t get any better than this. It stands the test of time just like all of their music does. So funny that John didn’t like the sound of his voice. He is fantastic as a solo singer and those guys sound like a heavenly choir when they sing together.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh – but I love the cover! It’s so much more interesting than the 20 snapshots of the same face on the 2009 version. And I thought it suited the song – sort of rock and roll with not much pretence.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My dad bought Cant Buy Me Love so i grew up knowing and liking You Cant Do That. I never bought the album I went for the Blue album as my big xmas 1975 choice and the Red album asc my big 1976 xmas choice. 1976 was a big year for The Beatles in the UK. All their singles were reissued with equally awful picture sleeves -drab green -along with Yesterday being made available as a single forvthe first time. It went Top 10 followed by Hey Jude at 12 Get Back and Paperback Writer top 30 and Strawberry Fields top 40. Others were lower down.

    From this album the US went for Got To Get You Into My Life which annoyed me as its fab and i wanted it out inthe UK too. We got Back In The USSR which is also fab. Both were chart hits so yay for the album which has never been made available since…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t understand why they would switch up singles at the time? I remember when it hit in 76…my sister how knew nothing about The Beatles bought Got To Get You Into My Life.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love that tune, which I hadn’t known for many years. I also didn’t know the “Rock & Roll” compilation. I agree has great tunes but a weird cover.

    My first Beatles record was a sampler from ‘79 titled “20 Golden Hits.” I also owned “Help!” and “Abbey Road”, and taped the red and blue samplers on MC long before I got “A Hard Day’s Night.”

    Back then without streaming services and the Internet, it was a lot harder to access music!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always loved this song…and it was my top post of the week…it really took me off guard that this many people liked it. It’s one of the first Beatle songs I liked.

      Liked by 1 person

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