The Eagles, Relationship Trouble and I Can’t Tell You Why

I always wondered how I would fit this song into the blog but today seems to be the day. Without giving too much away, someone very close to us is going through heavy duty relationship stuff at the moment and of course it ends up affecting us all.

Until we uploaded all our CDs onto the computer a few years ago I don’t think I would have remembered this song by The Eagles from their 1979 album “The Long Run”, but after rediscovering it, I think it has become the one I gravitate to most from their vast back catalogue – I Can’t Tell You Why is about a broken relationship, and what is to be done about it. Those opening few bars of music followed by the first few lines of lyric, still sends shivers up my spine every time I hear it.

Look at us baby
Up all night
Tearin’ our love apart
Aren’t we the same two people
Who lived through years in the dark
Every time I try to walk away
Somethin’ makes me turn and stay
I can’t tell you why

I Can’t Tell You Why by The Eagles:

Unless you have been really lucky in love you will no doubt recognise what the couple in the song are going through. When all is not going well in a relationship, and the two of you have reached breaking point, there can be these emotional “all-nighters” of discussion and argument which invariably never lead to a satisfactory conclusion. Of course staying up all night to “tear your love apart” is not the wisest choice – As Mama Cass sang, “The darkest hour is just before dawn” and not the time to make life-changing decisions.

The song itself ends up having no real conclusion and leaves the listener with an intentional melancholy (it certainly has that effect on me). The couple in the song are neither reconciled nor torn apart, and the song fades out on this point of uncertainty.

As someone who shared a flat with five other girls as a student, then with three other girls in my twenties, we had our fair share of “relationship-trouble” and there were many emotional all-night sessions like the one in the song. Wouldn’t change any of it however as I think it is a necessary part of the journey to finding “the one” (as per Bridget Jones). Doesn’t mean to say it makes it any easier however to watch your young people suffer as you did in your younger days – Cross fingers all will sort itself out soon as I don’t have the constitution for all this any more, even vicariously.

I have written about The Eagles before and of how their albums were a staple of my high school years, often listened to whilst hanging out at friends’ houses. Their line-up changed several times over the years but in 1977 bass player Timothy B. Schmit replaced Randy Meisner. When he joined the band, he brought a portion of the song I Can’t Tell You Why with him (loosely based on his own experiences). He then worked on it with Don Henley and Glenn Frey who were credited as co-writers. Timothy, he of the enviably long, dark locks, performed lead vocals on it and Glenn Frey (RIP) was once quoted as saying that “I Can’t Tell You Why” and “One Of These Nights” were the two Eagles songs he would put into a time capsule to represent their best work. Sounds fair to me.

So, “What’s It All About?” – This love stuff ain’t always easy and even at my age, I still can’t tell you why…..

I Can’t Tell You Why Lyrics
(Song by Don Henley/Timothy B Schmit/Glenn Frey)

Look at us baby
Up all night
Tearin’ our love apart
Aren’t we the same two people
Who lived through years in the dark

Every time I try to walk away
Somethin’ makes me turn and stay

I can’t tell you why

When we get crazy
It just ain’t right
(Try to keep your head on, girl)
‘Cause girl I get lonely too
You don’t have to worry
Just hold on tight
(Don’t get caught in your little world)
‘Cause I love you

Nothin’s wrong as far as I can see
We make it harder than it has to be

I can’t tell you why
No, baby, I can’t tell you why
I can’t tell you why

Every time I try to walk away
Somethin’ makes me turn around and stay

I can’t tell you why
No, baby, I can’t tell you why
I can’t tell you why
I can’t tell you why, yeah

No, baby
Ooooh, I can’t tell you why

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

3 thoughts on “The Eagles, Relationship Trouble and I Can’t Tell You Why”

  1. Beautiful melody, yes . . . but sad, sad. I hope the pain resolves somehow for the people to whom you referred. If not, most of us know from bitter experience that only the passing of time and hanging on for dear life will see us safely out the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

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