100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'You Can't Do That'
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images70/100

70. 'You Can't Do That'

Main Writer: Lennon
Recorded: February 25, 1964
Released: March 16, 1964
4 weeks; No. 48 (B side)

Four days after they returned from their triumphant first American tour, the Beatles were back in the studio, trying to meet the demand for new recordings. (It was also Harrison's 21st birthday, but he didn't exactly have time to answer the 30,000 birthday cards he received.) On the docket that day was a new song by Lennon that reflected his love for hard-edged American R&B — "a cowbell going four in the bar and the chord going chatoong!" as he put it.

"You Can't Do That" — the B side of "Can't Buy Me Love" — features an instrument Harrison had acquired in New York a few weeks earlier, when the band was in town to tape its first Ed Sullivan Show appearance: a 12-string Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar, the second one ever built, which would define the Beatles' sound for the next two years. But the lead-guitar part, featuring a choppy, tone-bending solo, is played by Lennon. "I have a definite style of playing — I've always had," Lennon told Rolling Stone. "But I was overshadowed. They call George the invisible singer. I'm the invisible guitarist."

Appears On: A Hard Day's Night

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