I Can't Explain (2:06)

Cover of Then and Now

From Then and Now and 56 other releases

“I Can’t Explain” is a song by English rock band The Who, written by Pete Townshend, and produced by Shel Talmy. The song was issued as a single via Brunswick Records on 15 January 1965 in the United Kingdom, and on 13 February 1965 in the United States.

“I Can’t Explain” was the A-side of the group’s first single released under the name The Who—their previous single, “I’m the Face”/”Zoot Suit,” was released as the High Numbers. The track also features on The Who’s 1971 compilation album Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy. In the album’s liner notes, Townshend noted the song’s similarity to the contemporaneous hit single “All Day and All of the Night” by The Kinks: “It can’t be beat for straightforward Kink copying. There is little to say about how I wrote this. It came out of the top of my head when I was 18 and a half.” In a 1994 issue of Q magazine, Roger Daltrey echoed Townshend’s comments regarding The Kinks’ influence on the writing of the song;

“We already knew Pete (Townshend) could write songs, but it never seemed a necessity in those days to have your own stuff because there was this wealth of untapped music that we could get hold of from America. But then bands like The Kinks started to make it, and they were probably the biggest influence on us – they were certainly a huge influence on Pete, and he wrote I Can’t Explain, not as a direct copy, but certainly it’s very derivative of Kinks music.”

The Who have used “I Can’t Explain” throughout many of their live performances, often as the opener, and it continues to be a staple today.

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