Friday, December 18, 2015

50 years ago: The Beatles “We Can Work It Out” hit #1 in UK

We Can Work It Out

The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon, Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: December 3, 1965

First Charted: December 9, 1965

Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 12 HR, 1 CL, 15 UK, 11 CN, 17 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.42 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 114.5 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“We Can Work It Out” was recorded during the sessions for the Rubber Soul era and released in the UK as a stand-alone single in December 1965. In the U.S., the song appeared on the album Yesterday…and Today, sort of a hodge-podge of singles and album cuts which hadn’t been released stateside in album form. The song, backed by John Lennon’s “Day Tripper,” soared to #1 on December 18 in the UK and January 8 in the United States.

The song was inspired by an argument Paul McCartney had with his then-girlfriend Jane Asher. He offers “passive-aggressively, pleading for his significant other to see things from his perspective in the same breath as he threatens to bolt out the door.” SG However, the song also showcases Paul’s typically “upbeat, optimistic verses” KL about how “we can work it out.” As John Lennon said, “You could say that he provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness.” FB

Indeed, John “crashes in with the bitter-sweet middle eight which gives the song its bite.” KL He contributes lines here such as “Life is very short / And there’s no time / For fussing and fighting, my friend.” As John explained, “I’d be the one to figure out where to go with a song – a story that Paul would start. In a lot of the songs, my stuff is the ‘middle eight,’ the bridge.’” FB Producer George Martin affirms that the two “never really collaborated. They were never Rodgers and Hart. They were songwriters who helped each other out with little bits and pieces.” FB

Recorded at the beginning of their more experimental phase, the song showcased how the Beatles could “take a simple-enough tune about a romantic disagreement and use it as a way to futz around with organ sounds and time signatures – to keep things interesting for themselves, or maybe to let their audience grow with them.” SG


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Beatles
  • DMDB page for “Day Tripper
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 191.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh. (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits. Omnibus Press: London, UK.
  • SG Stereogum (8/24/2018). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan

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First posted 6/23/2022.

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