Aural Fixation: Buzzcocks’ “Why Can’t I Touch It?”

One of the last great songs of the Buzzcocks‘ original run, “Why Can’t I Touch It?” was the B-Side to the much more popular “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays. It’s also one of their longest songs, coming just shy of the 7-minute mark. To truly appreciate this track, it’s important to consider the musical atmosphere of early 1979. Punk rock was slowly suffocating itself, and many bands, most notably The Clash, were turning to other influences to keep punk’s spirit alive. While the Buzzcocks’ longest track, the terrific “I Believe” drew inspiration from the questionable philosophies and untraditional song structures of Public Image Ltd., the dueling guitars of “Why Can’t I Touch It?” evoke the tense compositions of American proto-punks Television and even The Velvet Underground. The simple melody and lyrical theme give Pete Shelley a lot of room to move around, to the point where it sounds like he’s mixing up lines in later verses. Incidentally, nearly 30 years later, The Zutons‘ “Valerie” nearly duplicated the distinctive rhythm of “Why Can’t I Touch It?”

Listen: Buzzcocks – Why Can’t I Touch It?

and compare:

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~ by E. on June 4, 2009.

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