Writers: Timothy B. Schmit, Don Henley and Glenn Frey
Producer: Bill Szymczyk
Recorded: 1978 and 1979 at Bayshore Recording Studio in Coconut Grove, Florida
Released: October 20, 1979
|Players:||Timothy B. Schmit — vocals, bass
Don Henley — drums, vocals
Glenn Frey — guitar, piano vocals
Don Felder — guitar, vocals
Joe Walsh — guitar, vocals
|Album:||The Long Run (Asylum, 1979)|
Sung by bassist Timothy B. Schmit, the gentle, atmospheric “I Can't Tell You Why” was the third and final single released from The Long Run album. It reached Number Eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
“I Can't Tell You Why” also had the distinction of being the first track the Eagles completed during the arduous process of recording The Long Run. It would be several weeks before the group, plagued by internal bickering, finished another song for the album.
Although Joe Walsh and Don Felder performed most of the Eagles' lead guitar chores at this time, it was singer-guitarist Glenn Frey who contributed the biting, sliding guitar solos that highlight “I Can't Tell You Why.”
The Long Run was the Eagles' longest and most contentious recording. It came out three years after Hotel California, which at that time was an uncommonly long break between albums.
The gap between albums was so long that staffers at Elektra Records referred to The Long Run as “The Long One.”
According to Walsh, it also took a long time to make The Long Run due to the pressure on Frey and singer-drummer Don Henley to top Hotel California. “When we finished Hotel California, people started saying things like 'You guys are amazing,' and the album became this huge seller. It made us very paranoid. People started asking us, 'What are you going to do now?' and we didn't know. We ended up on the next album in Miami with the tapes running, but nobody knowing what was going on. We lost perspective. We just kinda sat around in a daze for three months.”
Henley has acknowledged that The Long Run was something of a disappointment. “By and large, I don't think it's a very good record. We needed a vacation. We needed to take some time off and away from each other, and we didn't do it. We just kept going until we burned out.”
Henley blames pressure from the record company to produce another album as the cause of the final schism between him and Frey. “We got into arguments about creativity, lyrics, and some angry words were exchanged. The crux of it was about whether or not everybody was carrying his fair share of the burden. There were the usual problems that all bands have with ego… In essence, we were all just too strung out. Everything was a drama… We needed what Aerosmith has now, a group psychiatrist.”
Nevertheless, The Long Run did hit Number One on the Billboard 200 and has sold more than four million copies.