David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 303: Hall And Oates (I Can't Go For That)

November 24, 2023

We've hit that time of year, Thanksgiving to Christmas,  when everything is about family and love and friendship. That time of year when we welcome extended family and friends to the table for good conversation. Even the no-good uncles.

Unless you're Daryl Hall, who issues a restraining order against his "brother," John Oates. "What the hell happened?" asks the rest of the world. Talk about inseparable. What on God's green acre did Oates do to dare Hall to draw the line?

Articles suggest the restraining order is tied to a lawsuit filed in the last month, but probably was years in the making. I am sure Oates wasn't happy when Hall said in 2022 that he and Oates "are not creative brothers. We are business partners. We made records called Hall & Oates together, but we've always been very separate, and that's a really important thing for me”.1

The sad thing is that throughout their career, most of us wondered what Oates brought to the party, besides the best mustache in rock and roll. Since they fell out of the Top 40 and ultimately stopped making records, Hall was already getting a little lippy about the creative force, which he claims was mostly just him, behind the music. So, really, none of this should surprise us.

I hear Hall hoped to save some money by recommending the restraining order just read as the lyrics to their 1981 hit, "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)." After all, Oates was the one who said the song was about the music business, not personal relationships: "That song is really about not being pushed around by big labels, managers, and agents and being told what to do, and being true to yourself creatively.”2 Uh, sorry about that John, keep on repeating those same old lines, but your buddy, Daryl, can't go for that.

However, once Hall and his lawyer got working on the order, his attorney cited concerns of vagueness. See their draft below (obtained via the Freedom Of Information Act).

RO110 Temporary Restraining Order

Name of Protected Person: Daryl Franklin Hohl

Name of Restrained Person: John William Oates

Personal Conduct Order: The following things are considered "No Can Dos" when it comes to the protected person.

Want his soul. Don't even think about it.

Honestly, the rest of the world should seek a restraining order against "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)." For a duo that carried blue-eyed soul through the 1970s into the 1980s with incredible songs like "Rich Girl," "She's Gone," and "Maneater," "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" is a pretty sparse song, the title line(s) recited ad infinitum and, thus, ad nauseam. At least on the Greatest Hits, the three-and-a-half minute version is included, and not the original five+minute version. All set to a rather hum-drum drum machine backing.

In fact, John, you might argue that "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" is exactly the evidence that you weren't creative partners, that in your hands, the song might have included a few more multi-syllabic words. I suppose you always felt like the third wheel with Hall and Sara Allen, the third person cited for many of your band's song-writing credits, so go ahead and admit the wheel came off on this one.

This lawsuit is likely to stay publicly ugly, which is too bad. Your restraining order against your Uncle Wynn tied to the burning down of your sister's trailer with the deep-fried turkey in 2021 is nobody's business but your own, but for Hall and Oates, this will remain out there for us to see. We should have noticed sooner, anyway. For 16 years, Daryl Hall has been inviting musicians to his house, but not since 2008 has it been his "business partner." The dude doesn't even want to jam with him anymore.

Did it hurt Oates to see Wyclef Jean invited to Live From Daryl's House in 2016? Kenny Loggins must have stung in 2016. Did John call Jimmy Messina and ask if he could come over and hang out in mutual commiseration? Did John have to look up Chiddy Bang (like I did) to even find out who (or what) Chiddy was or sang in 2012? I can see Oates strutting around his efficiency's kitchen, singing, "Chiddy, Chiddy Bang Bang? I can't go for that/no can do."

Clearly, this is a partnership ending with a bang and not a whimper. So sad. Where does it stop?

1"'Say It Isn't So': Hall Files For Restraining Order Against Bandmate Oates." Yahoo News. November 23, 2023. https://news.yahoo.com/isnt-hall-files-restraining-order-113935481.html. Retrieved November 23, 2023.

2"Hall and Oates' 'I Can't Go For That' Isn't About What You Think; Neither Is Maneater." Something Else! March 25, 2014. https://somethingelsereviews.com/2014/03/25/hall-and-oates-i-cant-go-for-that-isnt-about-what-you-think-its-about-neither-is-maneater/ Retrieved November 23, 2023.

Daryl Hall John Oates. "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)." Private Eyes. BMG, 1981. Link here.

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