We Can Work It Out
- Paul McCartney – double-tracked vocal, bass
- John Lennon – harmony vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar, harmonium
- George Harrison – tambourine
- Ringo Starr – drums
After their amazing, close collaborations in 1963 to write the songs that created "Beatlemania," John Lennon and Paul McCartney tended to write independently, with one of them being the main composer, and the other being a creative consultant. We Can Work It Out is one of the rare exceptions. It was written in 1965 by both of them. With Day Tripper it was released as a "double a-side" single, the first for the Beatles, and perhaps a first for any group. The group recorded We Can Work It Out during the Rubber Soul recording sessions.
McCartney's lyrics in the verses and chorus seem autobiographical: a reference to "issues" in his relationship with his girlfriend, Jane. John wrote the "middle eight," really a 12-bar bridge that expresses more impatience than his partner's optimism. He penned the now famous line: "Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friend." The fairly upbeat D major in the verses also changes to B minor, and goes from a march-like 4/4 time to the more rolling 3/4 rhythm. The arrangement also adds swell pedal crescendos to the verses, presaging the rich use of effects that would later become intimately identified with the Beatles in the middle- and late-periods.
Recording was accomplished in one eleven-hour session on October 20, 1965, just four days after Day Tripper was produced. This was the Beatles' longest studio session up to that time. John played the harmonium for the first time in the studio. It is believed that the tambourine playing was contributed by George, though some credit Ringo. Harrison suggested going to 3/4 in the bridge while they were rehearsing the song, and John and Paul readily agreed that it was a good call. Previously, such significant changes at recording time were rare, though they became commonplace thereafter.
Lennon argued adamantly for Day Tripper to be the a-side, but the consensus was that We Can Work It Out was more promising commercially, the unusual decision was taken to make them both a-sides to satisfy all parties. The consensus view proved to be correct. We Can Work It Out became the Beatles' sixth number one hit in a series.
The "We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper" or "Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out" as it were, is one of the iconic singles releases of all time.