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We Can Work It Out by The Beatles

Album: Past Masters, Vol. 2Released: 1965Charted:
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  • Paul McCartney wrote this about his girlfriend, an actress named Jane Asher. They split for good in 1968.
  • The Beatles recorded this specifically for release as a single at two quick sessions while they were making the Rubber Soul album in October, 1965. When it was released as a single backed with "Day Tripper," debate raged over which was the A-side. Most pop groups put B-sides on their singles that were far inferior, but The Beatles often came out with 45s containing 2 great songs.
  • John Lennon sang the "life is very short" part (which he also wrote), McCartney sang the rest. (thanks, john - jacksonville, FL)
  • A promotional film was made to support this song. It was one of the first music videos.
  • Stevie Wonder covered this on his 1970 album Signed, Sealed and Delivered. His version, which hit US #13, plays during the end credits of the 2005 movie Kicking And Screaming.

    In 2014, Wonder performed the song on the CBS special The Beatles: The Night That Changed America, which aired exactly 50 years after the group first performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. Wonder introduced the song by saying that he first heard it when he was 15 years old. "It had a nice thing to it, but I said, Someday I'm going to do it again, with a little more funky thing with it," Wonder said when he introduced the song.
  • In England, this was used in commercials for Hewlett-Packard.
  • The only time The Beatles played this live was on their final British tour in November/December 1965. McCartney didn't perform the song until 1991, when he played it on his 1991 MTV Unplugged appearance. On his 2002 Back In The US tour, McCartney played a solo version on his acoustic guitar.
  • In many KUMON (reading and writing centers) in Canada, there are posters of Paul and at the bottom, it says "We Can Work It Out." (thanks, Scott Baddwin - edmonton, England)
  • This song was covered by The Four Seasons later in their career. Ironically, it was the popularity of The Beatles which was the major cause of the Seasons' dwindling success in the mid-late 1960s. (thanks, Nick - tampa, FL)
  • The line "There's no time For fussing and fighting, my friend" was used in the song "You" by Bad Religion. The songs share the theme of a fighting couple. (thanks, David - Flint, MI)
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Comments: 43

On December 5th 1965, the Beatles performed at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool, it was the last time they appeared in concert in their hometown...
Eleven days later on December 16th, 1965 the quartet's *"We Can Work It Out" b/w "Day Tripper" would peak at #1 {for 5 weeks} on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
And in the U.S.A. the record would entered the Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart on Dec. 12th at position #36; and three weeks later on January 2nd, 1966 it peaked at #1 for two weeks...
R.I.P. John and George...
*Their set consisted of eleven songs; "We Can Work It Out" was the eighth song in the set while "Day Tripper" was the tenth {their final song was "I'm Down"}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I may be the only person who sees this song NOT the great compromise song it pretends to be -- "We can work it out" sounds like it preaches "we can work together", while the lyrics tell a different story entirely. Try to see it my way and it might work out; if we see it your way, only dire consequences are possible. Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong, but if we see it your way, well, we have to say good night. That doesn't sound like much of a compromise to me; it sounds more like "My way or the highway".

I suppose if I don't think too hard about the actual message, it is a good song, but the message messes with my head too much for me to enjoy it.
Susan - Atlanta, Georgia
On January 3rd, 1966, a video of the Beatles' "Day Tripper" and "We Can Work It Out" aired on the NBC-TV program 'Hullabaloo!'...
Capitol Records released it as a double A-sided record; and on December 12th, 1965 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
"We Can Work It Out" peaked at #1 (for 2 weeks) on January 2nd, 1966 and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100, while "Day Tripper" reached #5 (for 1 week) on January 16th and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks...
"We Can Work It Out" also peaked at #1 in the U.K., Ireland, & Canada, and in 1971 Stevie Wonder's covered version reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart and #13 on the Top 100...
R.I.P. John and George.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On December 6th, 1965, the Beatles' album 'Rubber Soul' was released in the U.S.A. (three days earlier on Dec. 3rd it was released in their native U.K.)...
The album contained 14 tracks, but none of them were released as a single...
But on that very same day in the U.S. Capital Records released "We Can Work It Out" b/w "Day Tripper"; and twelve days later the record entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart ("We Can Work It Out" peaked at #1 for 3 weeks and "Day Tripper" reached #5)...
R.I.P. John and George.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I just saw a Youtube video of the Beatles singing "We Can Work It Out". I never saw this video before so it was a delight to see something new by the Beatles here at the end of 2010. It shows John 'playing' the harmonium and Paul is wearing the jacket he wore (with the Nehru collar) at Shea stadium. If you go to Youtube and you don't find it then go go songwriter Billy Steinberg's interview in Songfacts and you'll find a link for it there.John - Eugene, Or
This song was #1 for three weeks, but not consecutively. On January 8th 1965 it reached #1 & stayed there for two weeks, then "The Sounds of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel took over the #1 spot for one week. But "We Can Work It Out" reclaimed #1 for one more week. Also this was a two-sided Top 10 record for the boys, "Day Tripper" peaked at No. 5!!!Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Does anyone remember a short film that used this song as it's soundtrack, like a music video of sorts, only this one used black and white still images, edited to the music, and i believe had either an anti-war message or peace message. I'm fuzzy on that part, but I do remember seeing it on television multiple times --- on the Ed Sullivan show I believe.Frank Loose - Atlanta, Ga
Hey, Liliana. I'm 14 years old, I LOVE The Beatles, and mostly get ridiculed for it because it's been, what, 30 years since they broke up. Anyway, I like this song too much, and I love the 4 men that had the genius to create songs like this. LONG LIVE THE BEATLES!!!!!!Julia - Richland, Wa
trevor, We Can Work It Out originally appeared in the US on the Yesterday and Today album in 1966. It is absolutely true that this song is one of the best illustrations of the different perspectives that John & Paul brought to their collaboration, but I've also heard that it illustrates some of the more subtle influences that George had on their songs. The 3/4 waltz time at the end of each verse was George's idea!Guy - Woodinville, Wa
liliana, im 13. my friends are very supportive of my huge obsession, and most of them are beatlemaniacs as well. however, my dad and my older brother, who loves pretty much everything from van halen to hip-hop, somehow despise them. ironic, huh? this is one of my favorite songs right now- makes you feel great, like a song should.Chloe - St. Louis, Mo
Interesting to know, mainly for the youngsters , something that only The Beatles have accomplished. Singles discs , very popular in the 50 ´s and 60 ´s with an A plus B sides nprmally have a 'supposed' good song , the A side and another not very so, the B side.
But The Beatles delivered some singles discs where both the A and B sides rocket to Number One in the charts. This compact single with Day Tripper and We can work it out is one example.
There are others from The Beatles, and I put a claleege here: have another band accomplish this ever?
John-SP-Brazil
John - Sao Paulo, Brazil
nice u.s flipside on the 45 from, was it Day
Tripper? nice organ sound..makes ya feel warm all over. kind of churchy.
Steve Dotstar - Los Angeles, Ca
What can I say? I like this song.Andy - Columbia, Sc
The Beatles' version is probably the best, but Stevie Wonder's version is great also.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Trevor in SD and Russ in Seattle, We Can Work It Out originally appeared in the US on the Yesterday... And Today album released in 1966. This was the album with the infamous Butcher Block cover that was pulled from distributuin and hastily replaced with the lame portrait around a suitcase.Guy - Woodinville, Wa
Great song I love it. If they wrote it late enough like 68,69 it could sound like problems going through the band. It could be used in a way that not about a girlfriend and boyfriend disagreeing. I am not sure how to really aexplain it. But like a band break up song. Does that make any sense ?Krissy - Boston, Ma
This song so seamlessly drifts from 4/4 time to 3/4 time, and then back again. I love it.Josie - Funkytown, Nc
This is one of the best pop songs ever written and proves why Lennon and McCartney were hard to beat as songwriters.The song has one of the catchiest melodies you will hear and lyrics that not only entertain but inspire as well.It's about hope in the midst of discouragement and a message to work things out together.George - Belleville, Nj
Trevor in S.D., the answer to your question is, Past Masters Volume Two. John Lennon remarked in his 1980 Playboy interview "You've got Paul writing, 'We can work it out.' Real optimistic, and me, impatient, [with] 'Life is very short, and there's no time, For fussing and fighting, my friend."Russ - Seattle, Wa
I think this is the first Beatles song that changes meter but I'm not sure. The accordian sounding instrument is really harmonium and the vocal harmonies make this one of the reason's why the Rolling Stones could not compete with the Beatles on the pop-rock format.Joe - Montvale, Nj
Tesla covers this on Five Man Acoustical Jam - in fact, it leads directly into their better-known cover from that live album, "Signs".Joshua - Twin Cities, Mn
This song is a prime example of the beauty of the Lennon/McCartney song writing partership. It is mostly a Paul song, but add Lennon's "life is very short and there's no time..." and it takes what would have been a good song and makes it a great song. Too bad John couldn't have provided input on the chorus to a later McCartney song "Ebony and Ivory" where the verses sound good but the "Ebony...Ivory...living in perfect harmony" part of the chorus sounds too cute. And there are some solo songs by John that could have used a touch of Paul's composing as well.Steve - Fenton, Mo
Am I the only one who thinks it sounds like they're saying "We gotta work it out"?Jon - Oakridge, Or
Pauls acoustic live version getting a lot of play here recently. Real good song. He stands on the "fussin and fussin and fussin..." Like it a lot.Mark - Worcester, Mi
Deep Purple does a very odd cover of this. Just to tell you because I'm listening to it now.Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
This is indeed released with John's 'Day Tripper' and a good song. The original idea came from Paul, but it's a kind of 50/50-composition when Paul does the verses and John de middle eight.Bram - Zoetermeer, Netherlands
I've never seen any 'KUMON' posters...Linus - Hamilton, On, Canada
This is a perfect example of the difference between the writing of Lennon and McCartney. Paul is upbeat...We can work it out....and John is more downbeat...Life is very short....Put them together and it was the perfect mix.

Kim Glendale, AZ
Kim - Glendale, Az
This came along when a girlfriend and I needed to work it out. (We didn't, but what the hey?!)Lee - Clearwater, Fl
My father loves this song. I LOVE All BEATLES' SONGS and I think this is one of their best.George - Itaberaba, Brazil
The walsy part on chorus is the work of George. The chorus is Lennon, and the verse is Paul.
But the walsy vibe at the chorus was Georges.
Vic - Santiago, Chile
I'm a hippie. I love the the beatles. This is one of there great songs.Andrew - Seatle, Wa
what album was this released. I know its on one and the red album but was it released on anything else?Trevor - San Diego, Ca
I'm 14, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Beatles. Thanks to my mom for introducing me to good music from back in the day.Mary C. - Chicago, Il
I'm 12 Liliana.Everyone at school thinks I'm a nerd/geek because I like the beatles. And I like reading. And I'm a Harry Potter junkie. I have a band and most of what we play is beatles. THEY ROCK! LITTERALLY! so It doesn't matter!Laura - Santa Fe, Nm
This really is one of the best Beatles songs. Did Chaka Khan do a version of this?Katie - Australia
Lennon said in one of his interviews about he wouldn't mind having the "fussing and fighting" bridge part he wrote being used for his epitaph.Alan - City, Mi
Liliana, I'm not a teen, but you keep listening to The beatles and spread the word to your friends. There's so much crap out there that teens are listening to. Music doesn't get any better than this. If any band can change your life or teach you about life, it's The Beatles. Keep Listening!Jason - Mesa, Az
One of the best number 1 singles of all time, no doubt about it.Joe - West Creek, Nj
yea, this song has a strong message... it needs more comments. I mean how clearer can you say it: life is very short and there's no time for fussing and fighting...
by the way, i'm 15. any other teens around here?
Liliana - Huntley, Il
It would have been a good song,even without Lennon's part in the song. When Lennon off sets the tempo of the song & w/McCartneys harmony the song becomes ABSOLUTELY phenominal. And this is one of the reasons why they were the greatest hands down...Nick - Buffalo, Ny
One of the Beatles' best. I'm surprised there's only one comment on this song.Paulo - New York, Ny
Heather Nova sang this for the I Am Sam soundtrackAmy - Baton Rouge, La