Hard to Explain

Hard to Explain

"Hard to Explain" is the first single from New York garage rockers The Strokes (their only previously released material was The Modern Age EP). It was released first in the UK, reaching #16 on the singles chart. It was later released in the USA with different album artwork. (The UK version has a photo of two chairs, one red and one black, facing the camera. The chairs appear to be in a diner or restaurant of some sort.) Because this single is the first from their debut LP Is This It, "Hard to Explain" is the single that got the band's hype machine to an uncontrollable fervor. It made the anticipation for the album proper very high, and when Is This It did come out it was widely hailed as one of the best of the year. The B-side of this single, "New York City Cops" was omitted from the US version of the album in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center (the chorus to the song contains the lines "New York City cops/They ain't too smart").

The music video for this song was rarely broadcast on television because it did not contain enough shots of the band members, but was instead a montage of random stock footage shots of things that could be considered "hard to explain". It was directed by the team of Roman Coppola and Johannes Gamble (as well as an uncredited Julian Casablancas). Footage of The Strokes playing "Take It or Leave It" from MTV2's Two Dollar Bill concert is used in the video. Some of the stock footage was taken from the film Koyaanisqatsi, which was presented by Francis Ford Coppola. Sum41's music video for Still Waiting is a parody of this video, though it is often mistaken as a parody of the video for Last Nite.

Single track listing


  1. Hard To Explain
  2. New York City Cops


  1. Hard to Explain
  2. New York City Cops
  3. Take It or Leave It (Live in LA)
  4. Trying Your Luck (Live in LA)

Ireland CD

  1. Hard To Explain
  2. The Modern Age
  3. Last Nite
  4. When It Started
  5. Take It or Leave It (Live KCRW radio session)
  6. Hard To Explain
  7. New York City Cops
  8. Take It or Leave It (Live KCRW radio session)
  9. Trying Your Luck (Live KCRW radio session)

Limited Edition Clear Vinyl 7" edition (US)

  1. Hard To Explain
  2. New York City Cops

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