First Hit #1: January 30, 1982
I Can’t Go For That is almost completely synthesized. There is a bit of incidental guitar – which probably could have been changed if they had wanted to hit that completely synth target – and a very early 80’s sax solo, but otherwise we’re hitting completely artificial instruments, all the time. It’s the first time Hall and Oates have gone very noticeably inorganic, and I think that was on purpose. The guitar, what little there is, is almost played like a heartbeat, and the song has repeated mentions of having a soul but no body. If the song is about unwillingness to completely devote to something, it makes sense to have the instruments to reflect those themes. The guitar is the heart, the sax is the soul, and the keyboards are used to communicate after everything else has been taken away by the other person. It’s not a minimalist song by any stretch of the imagination, Hall and Oates push as much as they can through it, but it also is just fake enough to be clearly artificial. It’s a musical attempt to rebuild after the breakup the lyrics are recounting, using the parts that can be salvaged as best they can.
I might be misreading the whole thing, but the group is normally not quite so obvious about what they’re using to play the song.