The Paul McCartney Project

You Can't Do That

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Can't Buy Me Love / You Can't Do That 7" Single.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1964
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.

Song facts

From Wikipedia:

You Can’t Do That” is a song written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and released by the Beatles as the B-side of their sixth British single “Can’t Buy Me Love“.

Composition

One of Lennon’s semi-autobiographical songs, “You Can’t Do That,” “contradicted the genial tone with its tense threats, sexual paranoia and nagging, dragging groove,” according to Robert Sandall. The song’s jealousy theme was re-visited in other Lennon compositions, such as “Run for Your Life” and “Jealous Guy“. Influenced by the then relatively unknown Wilson Pickett the song is rooted in the twelve-bar blues form, with Lennon introducing a discordant Sharp 9th (F) on the D7th chord, pointedly emphasising “…I told you before…” and then pushing this note for the exasperated “Oh!” before resolving to the song’s key of G. Lennon also played the guitar solo, which he conceived. The song reflected Lennon’s love for hard-edged American R&B—”a cowbell going four in the bar and the chord going chatoong!” as he put it.

George Harrison wrote the intro and outro guitar riff in the studio according to Tom Petty in Rolling Stone Magazine. When asked by Petty how he came up with it, Harrison recalled “I was just standing there [in the studio] and thought, ‘I’ve got to do something!’“.

With filming due to begin on A Hard Day’s Night film director Dick Lester needed the Beatles to provide him with original material ahead of production and “You Can’t Do That” was selected to be part of the Scala Theatre “live performance” scene in the film, but was dropped from the final cut along with “I’ll Cry Instead” and “I Call Your Name.” The recording took nine takes to complete, and was considered for the A-side of their next single until McCartney wrote “Can’t Buy Me Love.

Recording and release

You Can’t Do That” was recorded on Tuesday, 25 February 1964, in Abbey Road Studios in London. An early take with a guide vocal is included on Anthology 1. It was the first song completed in the week before the Beatles began filming A Hard Day’s Night, though “I Should Have Known Better” and “And I Love Her” were also started on the same day.

While in New York for The Ed Sullivan Show guitarist George Harrison was presented with a Rickenbacker 360 Deluxe electric 12-string guitar worth (in 1964) $900. Only the second one produced, it was heard for the first time on “You Can’t Do That” (although actually used for the first time on “Can’t Buy Me Love” but lost in the mix) and gave the song its distinctive chiming sound. Harrison would end up playing the guitar extensively on the A Hard Day’s Night LP, greatly influencing Roger McGuinn, who later went on to form the Byrds.

The song was first released as the B-side of the “Can’t Buy Me Love” single on 16 March 1964 in the United States by Capitol Records and on 20 March 1964 in the United Kingdom by Parlophone. It was the Beatles seventh US single and sixth UK single. It was later included in the A Hard Day’s Night album in the UK, and The Beatles’ Second Album in the US.

The Beatles were filmed miming to “You Can’t Do That” as part of the final concert sequence in the A Hard Day’s Night film. The filming took place on 31 March 1964 at the Scala Theatre, London, but was not used. It was, however, broadcast on The Ed Sullivan Show on 24 May. The performance is included in the documentary The Making of “A Hard Day’s Night”.

The Beatles recorded “You Can’t Do That” four times for BBC radio in 1964. It also became a part of the group’s live repertoire that year, and was the second song in their set—after “Twist And Shout“—during their Australian and North American tours.

According to Mark Lewisohn’s The Beatles Recording Sessions book, George Martin overdubbed a piano track to Take 9 on 22 May 1964 ostensibly for the album version of this song, but it was never used. […]

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 26 Feb 1964.
    US: Capitol 5150 single 1964, Capitol T 2080 Second 1964.
  • [a1] mock stereo made from [a] 1964, by Capitol.
    US: Capitol ST 2080 Second 1964.
  • [b] mono 26 Feb 1964.
    UK: Parlophone R5114 single 1964, Parlophone PMC 1230 Hard Day’s Night 1964.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46437 2 Hard Day’s Night 1987, EMI single 1989.
  • [c] stereo 22 Jun 1964.
    UK: Parlophone PCS 3058 Hard Day’s Night 1964.
    US: Capitol SKBO-11537 Rock and Roll Music 1976.

The two mono mixes [a] [b] seem identical but Lewisohn reports separate mixes for the US and UK.

A new stereo mix of 1994 appears on the home video “The Making of A Hard Day’s Night”, but not on disk.

Last updated on March 6, 2016

Lyrics

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 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 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 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 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 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'll go and let you down
(Let you down)
And leave you flat
(Gonna let you down and leave you flat)
Because I told you before
Oh, you can't do that

Officially appears on


A Hard Day's Night (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:34 • Studio versionB • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Cowbell
Ringo Starr:
Conga, Drums
John Lennon:
Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
12-string rhythm guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 25, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 26, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles' Second Album (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:39 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Cowbell
Ringo Starr:
Conga, Drums
John Lennon:
Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
12-string rhythm guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 25, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 26, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles' Second Album (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:38 • Studio versionA1 • Stereo • Mock stereo made from [A] by Capitol

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Cowbell
Ringo Starr:
Conga, Drums
John Lennon:
Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
12-string rhythm guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 25, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 26, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Can't Buy Me Love / You Can't Do That

7" Single • Released in 1964

2:35 • Studio versionB

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Cowbell
Ringo Starr:
Conga, Drums
John Lennon:
Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
12-string rhythm guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 25, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 26, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


A Hard Day's Night (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:34 • Studio versionC • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Cowbell
Ringo Starr:
Conga, Drums
John Lennon:
Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
12-string rhythm guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 25, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 22, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road


Anthology 1

Official album • Released in 1995

2:42 • OuttakeD • Take 6. The recording featured the combined sound of John Lennon's lead and George Harrison's 12-string guitars - George acquired the instrument in America, and its sound was prevalent throughout there sessions. The master version was Take 9 but the one presented here is Take 6: an attempt at perfecting the basic track while John delivered a guide vocal. It was usual for the Beatles to record with a live (if only guide) vocal until around the time of Revolver in 1966.

George Martin:
Producer
Norman Smith:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 25, 1964
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2

Official live • Released in 2013

2:32 • Radio showL1 • Released first as the flip-side of "Can't Buy Me Love", "You Can't Do That" is a swaggering R&B workout that became a highlight of the non-film-songs side of A Hard Day’s Night.

Bernie Andrews:
Producer

Concert From "Top Gear" in London, United Kingdom on Jul 16, 1964


Live At The Hollywood Bowl

Official album • Released in 2016

2:34 • LiveL2

Giles Martin:
Producer
Voyle Gilmore:
Producer
Sam Okell:
Mixing engineer
Alex Wharton:
Mastering
Matt Mysko:
Assistant mixing engineer
James Clark:
Audio restoration

Concert From the concert in Los Angeles, USA on Aug 23, 1964

Bootlegs


Looking Through The Bent Backed Tulips

Unofficial live

2:31 • Live


The BBC Archives Volume 9

Unofficial album

2:34 • Radio show


The BBC Archives Volume 10

Unofficial album

2:36 • Radio show


The BBC Archives Volume 10

Unofficial album

2:39 • Radio show


The BBC Archives Volume 10

Unofficial album

2:31 • Radio show


Live performances

“You Can't Do That” has been played in 40 concerts.

Latest concerts where “You Can't Do That” has been played








Contribute!

Have you spotted an error on the page? Do you want to suggest new content? Or do you simply want to leave a comment ? Please use the form below!

Your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.