What Goes On

“What Goes On” is a Beatles’ song from their 1965 “Rubber Soul” album. This is also the only Beatles’ song with credit to Lennon-McCartney-Starkey. So, its a pretty much unique song for that fact alone. However, Ringo Starr jokingly stated that he contributed “About five words, and I haven’t done a thing since”. Be that as it may, “What Goes On” is part of a fantastic album. Not only that but it was the B-side of the US single, “Nowhere Man“.

In Detail


Release Date: 3rd December, 1965 (UK), 21st February, 1966 (US)
Recorded: 4th November, 1965
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Rockabilly
Track Duration: 2:50
Record Label: Parlophone
Songwriters: Lennon-McCartney/Starkey
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith


What Goes On is a Beatles' song from their Rubber Sould album

Rubber Soul Album (1965)

Ringo Starr: lead vocal, as well as the drums
John Lennon: harmony vocal, also the rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: harmony vocal, also the bass guitar
George Harrison: lead guitar

Track Source

Rubber Soul

What Goes On

Originally written in the days of The Quarrymen, “What Goes On” could have easily been the next single after the “Please Please Me“. Although they submitted the demo in 1963, they didn’t use the song until 1965 for the “Rubber Soul” album. This is because of time restrictions in the studio. In fact, they were completing “From Me to You“, “Thank You Girl“, and attempting “One After 909“.

The original 1963 recording features John Lennon and Paul McCartney but that version has yet to surface. The Beatles Forum and Cavern Club will update this information once it becomes available, if ever!

For the “Rubber Soul” album, Lennon and McCartney gave song-writing credit to Ringo Starr. Therefore, this Lennon-McCartney-Starkey song becomes unique because it is the only one to claim this. In the first record pressing, Ringo’s name didn’t appear, this could be a very rare collectors item for some!

“That was an early Lennon written before The Beatles when we were The Quarrymen, or something like that. And resurrected with a middle eight thrown in, probably with Paul’s help, to give Ringo a song and also to use the bits, because I never like to waste anything.”

John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

“When Paul wanted to show Ringo how What Goes On sounded he made up a multi-track tape. Onto this went Paul singing, Paul playing lead guitar, Paul playing bass and Paul playing drums. Then Ringo listened to the finished tape and added his own ideas before the recording session.”

Neil Aspinall
The Beatles Book (aka Beatles Monthly), April, 1966

Recording Studio

There was a need to complete the “Rubber Soul” album because the deadline date was looming. So, on the 4th November, 1965 at the EMI Studios in London, they started recording around 11pm. As it happened, the band only needed one take for the rhythm track. Ringo Starr recorded the lead vocal while Lennon and McCartney set about overdubbing their harmony vocals.

During this recording session, The Beatles also recorded the instrumental, “12-Bar Original“. That track was not part of the “Rubber Soul” album, of course. Moreover, we had to wait until 1996 for the “Anthology 2” album before take two of that recording became commercially available.

“What Goes On” has a country & western-flavour to it and the mix certainly is pleasant to the ear. So, what are your thoughts on this song?

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About Bobby

I have been a Beatles fan since the early 1960s so I speak from my heart and soul. It was a pleasure to accept the role of Editor on The Beatles Forum when we left our old site. If you feel that something needs correcting with the information I provide, please contact me.

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