Monday, January 11, 2010

Life Is Very Short

On December 03 1965 in the UK and December 06 1965 in the US two things happened. The new Beatles LP was released with the title being "Rubber Soul". The other thing was a new double A-side single released at the same time as the LP: "We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper". This post will be looking at "We Can Work It Out". This tune was an original Lennon/McCartney number mainly written by Paul with the middle eight section written by John. The contrast in lyrics show the optimism of Paul's encouragment for the verses with John's slightly more downbeat, quick response : "Life Is Very Short and There's No Time for Fussing and Fighting My Friend". This contrast is often used as an example of the different composing directions of the two songwriters (along with the contrast in "Getting Better" which is also often cited).

"We Can Work It Out" is an acoustic type number with a three/four middle and prominent harmonium played by John Lennon in this case. The song was first recorded on Wednesday October 20 1965 at EMI studio two. The basic track for the song was recorded in two takes. The first take broke down during the second bridge but the second take was perfect. The overdub of vocals and the harmonium completed the session. The tambourine was played by George on the original basic track. A version of take 1 is available on the vinyl bootleg: "Ultra Rare Trax Volumes 3 and 4".

The first mono mix for "We Can Work It Out" was conducted from the control room of Studio two on October 28 1965. This mix was used for the television special "The Music of Lennon and McCartney" in order for the Beatles to mime to this. Once this mix was complete, it was realized that more vocals were needed.

Therefore, the Beatles returned to the studio the next day on October 29 1965 and added some more of Paul's lead vocal and more harmonium. The song was completed and two mono mixes were made: one for the vinyl record and one for the upcoming television special mentioned above. There were also two stereo mixes made of "We Can Work It Out": both stereo mixes were done on November 10 1965 from room 65 at EMI studios. The first stereo mix was completed for the North American market; the other stereo mix was used for the UK. The UK stereo mix was eventually replaced by a new stereo mix re-done a year later on November 10 1966 from room 65 at EMI studios. The difference can be heard in the placement of the harmonium: the US has it placed in the center of the stereo spectrum while the UK version has the instrument placed on the right of the stereo spectrum.

As well as being released as a single in the UK (Parlophone R 5389) and in North America (Capitol 5555), "We Can Work It Out" is available on the North American Capitol LP "Yesterday...and Today" as well as the Parlophone UK LP "A Collection of Beatles Oldies". The song is also featured on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1962-1966", it is also on the EMI/Capitol LP: "20 Greatest Hits (both UK and North American versions)", the Apple 2-LP/CD "1" as well as the EMI/Parlophone/Apple 2-LP "Past Masters Volume 1 and 2" as well as it's CD counterpart "Past Masters Volume 2" and finally on Apple 2-CD "Mono Masters" and the stereo remastered "Past Masters" series.

As well as being mimed by the Beatles for "The Music of Lennon and McCartney" on the Granada television in the UK, the Beatles also performed this song for their short December 1965 UK tour.

The subject matter of the song was supposedly inspired by Jane Asher (Paul's girlfriend at the time).

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