The Paul McCartney Project

What Goes On

Album This song officially appears on the Rubber Soul (UK Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1965

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions



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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

What Goes On” is a song by the Beatles, featured as the eighth track on their sixth British album Rubber Soul. The song was later released as the B-side of the US single “Nowhere Man“, and then as the tenth track on the North America-only album Yesterday and Today. It is the only song by the band credited to Lennon–McCartney-Starkey.

Composition

The original version of the song was written by John Lennon in the Quarrymen days and considered as a follow-up to “Please Please Me” in early 1963. The song was not used until 1965 as Ringo Starr’s vocal piece for Rubber Soul. According to Lennon, “it was resurrected with a middle eight thrown in, probably with Paul’s help” for Rubber Soul. Barry Miles also claimed that McCartney and Starr combined for the middle eight. There is no formal middle eight in the song, though one chorus and one verse are extended; Ian MacDonald believes those longer sections were written by McCartney. Starr contributed to the lyrics, his first-ever composing credit on a Beatles song. However, when asked what his contribution was to the song, Starr jokingly stated, “About five words, and I haven’t done a thing since.” To his chagrin, the first pressing of the single accidentally omitted “Starkey” in the song-writing credit.

Recording

An early version was considered as a follow-up to “Please Please Me“, and the Beatles hoped to record it on 5 March 1963, but there was only time for the other songs recorded that night: “From Me to You“, “Thank You Girl“, and an early version of “One After 909“.

The Rubber Soul version was recorded in one take, with overdubs, on 4 November 1965. In the verse before the lead break after Starr sings “tell me why,” Lennon can be heard saying “We already told you why!” in reference to the Beatles’ “Tell Me Why” from the previous year. During this session the Beatles recorded a long (6:36) instrumental tune called “12-Bar Original” for lack of a better name. “12-Bar Original” was not included on Rubber Soul, and was not commercially available until 1996 when an edited version of take 2 of this song was included on the Anthology 2 album.

Reception and reviews

Richie Unterberger, in AllMusic, says the song is an enjoyable, but lightweight, country & western-flavoured entry in The Beatles catalogue. Unterberger praises George Harrison’s guitar work, which “again marks him as the finest disciple of Carl Perkins,” and the guitar work is indeed similar to “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby“, a Perkins cover version released on Beatles for Sale.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 9 Nov 1965
    UK: Parlophone PMC 1267 Rubber Soul 1965.
    US: Capitol 5587 single 1966, Capitol T 2553 Yesterday & Today 1966.
  • [b] stereo 9 Nov 1965
    UK: Parlophone PCS 3075 Rubber Soul 1965.
    US: Capitol ST 2553 Yesterday & Today 1966.
  • [c] stereo 1987
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46440 2 Rubber Soul 1987.

In the closing guitar work, [b] [c] have a short probable overdub that improves the ending as heard in [a]. Ringo’s off-mike singing during the break and at the ending is easier to hear in the stereo mixes.

Last updated on March 19, 2016

Lyrics

What goes on in your heart?
What goes on in your mind?
You are tearing me apart
When you treat me so unkind
What goes on in your mind?

The other day I saw you
As I walked along the road
But when I saw him with you
I could feel my future fold
It's so easy for a girl like you to lie
Tell me why

What goes on in your heart?
What goes on in your mind?
You are tearing me apart
When you treat me so unkind
What goes on in your mind?

I met you in the morning
Waiting for the tides of time
But now the tide is turning
I can see that I was blind
It's so easy for a girl like you to lie
Tell me why
What goes on in your heart?

I used to think of no one else
But you were just the same
You didn't even think of me
As someone with a name
Did you mean to break my heart and watch me die?
Tell me why

What goes on in your heart?
What goes on in your mind?
You are tearing me apart
When you treat me so unkind
What goes on in your mind?

Officially appears on


Rubber Soul (UK Mono)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:47 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Vocals
John Lennon :
Harmony vocals, Rhythm guitar
George Harrison :
Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 04, 1965
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 09, 1965
Studio :
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road


Rubber Soul (UK Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1965

2:47 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Vocals
John Lennon :
Harmony vocals, Rhythm guitar
George Harrison :
Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 04, 1965
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 09, 1965
Studio :
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road


Yesterday and Today (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1966

2:48 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Vocals
John Lennon :
Harmony vocals, Rhythm guitar
George Harrison :
Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 04, 1965
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 09, 1965
Studio :
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road


Yesterday and Today (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1966

2:49 • Studio versionB

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Vocals
John Lennon :
Harmony vocals, Rhythm guitar
George Harrison :
Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 04, 1965
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 09, 1965
Studio :
EMI Studios, Room 65, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


Rubber Soul - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2012

2:52 • Alternate take • (Rockband Mix) (stereo)

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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