Monday 18 January 2021

We Can Work It Out

Cover version of the month #62 
Stevie Wonder covers The Beatles

Released in December 1965, We Can Work It Out was The Beatles first ever AA-Side single, paired with the glorious Day Tripper. 

Largely written by Paul McCartney, We Can Work It Out is one of many examples where the melody seemingly pours out of McCartney and doesn't let up, flowing effortlessly, until broken up a little by the middle eight which he co-wrote with John Lennon.

John Lennon, Playboy interview, 1980; Paul did the first half, I did the middle eight. But you've got Paul writing, We can wrok it out, we can work it out - real optimistic, y'know, and me, impatient: Life is very short, and there's no time / for fussing and fighting my friend

As well as being the first AA-side single, We Can Work It Out was the first single that The Beatles recorded a promo film for. A performance shot in black & white, shows Lennon pulling faces as McCartney and co run through the song. Starr looks thoroughly uninterested while Harrison is going through the motions, perhaps because they knew they would end up shooting 3 other promo films that day for previous releases. 

We Can Work It Out bookended 1965 for The Beatles, a year which I think is absolutely pivotal in their evolution as a band. 1964 ended with the release of Beatles For Sale, while August 65 saw The Beatles release Help! . Both albums still included cover versions.

Rubber Soul, remarkably released only 4-months after Help!, also in December 1965 on the same day as We Can Work It Out, saw The Beatles offer original compositions only. To emphasise how the band was changing, December 1965 also marked The Beatles last ever UK tour.

What a remarkable 12-months; from Beatles For Sale to Rubber Soul! The fact that The Beatles only began writing most of the songs for Rubber Soul when they returned from an American tour in August 1965 is staggering.

Stevie Wonder covered We Can Work It Out on his 1970 album Signed, Sealed, Delivered, with his version also being released as a single in 1971.

Wonder ramps it up a little; if McCartney's melody flows effortlessly, then Wonder's voice soars in that way too. Still only 20, Wonder flies through the song, sounding like he is having fun, his delivery leaves the listener in absolutely no doubt that the couple will work it out.

Wonder adds more than a minute to The Beatles version, so where McCartney comes bursting in immediately, Wonder has time for a playful intro. The beat has a little more urgency to it, when Wonder sings the middle eight you really believe him. 

The harmonica solo is playful, Wonder is playing with the song, he breaks it down before launching into everything all over again. It's a stunning song, I love The Beatles version but playing them back to back, I love Stevie's version more.

Here is Stevie performing the song in front of Paul McCartney! CLICK HERE or watch below (depending on how you are viewing this blog).

Search for Everything Flows cool cover versions on Spotify for a playlist of the covers I have blogged about and read on for a full list and links to previous cover of the month blogs. 

Previous covers of the month

13. Hurt

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