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 two 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 - one of the first music videos - was made to support this song. This was done in a shoot on November 23, 1965 at a film studio in London, where they recorded clips for four others songs as well. The Beatles did this so they could get their songs broadcast without actually appearing on the TV shows, clearing their schedules for other matters. They did three different version of "We Can Work It Out," all with John Lennon at the organ.
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)