We Can Work It Out


Photo credit: Norman Parkinson

 
 

It was released as a “double A-sided” single with Day Tripper, the first time both sides of a single were so designated in an initial release. Both songs were recorded during the Rubber Soul sessions. Paul McCartney wrote the words and music to the verses and the chorus, with lyrics that “might have been personal”, probably a reference to his relationship with Jane Asher. McCartney then took the song to John Lennon:

“I took it to John to finish it off, and we wrote the middle together. Which is nice: ‘Life is very short. There’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.’ Then it was George Harrison‘s idea to put the middle into waltz time, like a German waltz. That came on the session, it was one of the cases of the arrangement being done on the session.”

With its intimations of mortality, Lennon’s contribution to the twelve-bar bridge contrasts typically with what Lennon saw as McCartney’s cajoling optimism, a contrast also seen in other collaborations by the pair, such as Getting Better and I’ve Got a Feeling. As Lennon told Playboy in 1980:

“In We Can Work It Out, Paul did the first half, I did the middle eight. But you’ve got Paul writing, ‘We can work it out / We can work it out’—real optimistic, y’know, and me, impatient: ‘Life is very short, and there’s no time / For fussing and fighting, my friend.'”

 
 

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