December 11th, 2008

We Can Work It Out

Song Info (from Beatlesongs):”We Can Work It Out” was released in the US on December 6, 1965, as a double A-sided single with “Day Tripper.” It was 70% Paul and 30% John, with a similar mix of optimism (“we can work it out”) and impatience (“life is very short and there’s no time”). Paul’s inspiration was his then-girlfriend Jane Asher.

I’ve always liked this song. Aside from it being the basis for my favorite Beatles Tie, (I’ve always regretted not buying it when I had the chance), it always seemed so upbeat and encouraging. I’d always thought this song was an exhortation to, you know, work things out. I mean, it’s right there in the title, after all.

I have this weird relationship with music, though, where I can hear a song a bunch of times without really hearing it. I can’t hear lyrics all that well, which has resulted in me hearing things like “Benny took and he ate a ball of my corn” from the Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B” (real line: “Then he took and he ate up all of my corn”). But this song seemed pretty straight forward:

We can work it out,
We can work it out.
Life is very short, and there’s no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend.
I have always thought that it’s a crime,
So I will ask you once again.

“We can talk this through, we can figure it out, and we should stop fussing because it’s not important in the grand scheme of how long we’re given on this earth.”

Those are great sentiments and things we could stand to put into practice… but it’s only half the picture of the song. Since that’s the chorus and it has the musical hook, that’s the part we tend to remember. But the verses tell me a different story:

Try to see it my way,
Do I have to keep on talking till I can’t go on?
While you see it your way,
Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone.

Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong.
While you see it your way
There’s a chance that we might fall apart before too long.

Turns out what he’s really saying is “You’re wrong, I’m right, and the sooner you figure that out and start doing things my way, the better off we’ll be.” That seems a bit more familiar, since that’s pretty much what we all do. At the same time Paul’s singing this to Jane, Jane’s singing the exact same thing back to him.

We’re never going to find someone who agrees with us on everything. Every topic, every issue, has two or more sides, If both sides are completely convinced theirs is the correct view, a compromise won’t make anyone happy. and it seems the answer to Rodney King’s question of “Can’t we all just get along?” is a resounding “NO!”

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best I can do is state my position and my reasons for having that position. Getting angry with someone because they don’t have the same views I do is, well, dumb. Its basis is an unrealistic egocentric worldview – “All others must conform to my way!” – and will forever cause that person to be angry at any and every one.

I’m trying to level up my ability to disagree with someone without hating them or getting angry at them. I’m still in my starting area, so I’m pretty low-level just yet, but quests are constantly presenting themselves, so I should be able to get more and more XP as time goes on. The real difficulty in most of the quests is that questee usually doesn’t have the same goal, and there are many instances of anger and namecalling. I get more XP and the rewards are greater if I don’t respond in kind, but it takes a lot longer to play that way.

Proverbs 20:3 says that “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.” (NASB) While that doesn’t mean “run away from problems,” it pretty clearly says quarrelers aren’t a special breed.

2 Comments on “We Can Work It Out”

  1. Sizzledowski says:

    "but quests are constantly presenting themselves"

    *whistles innocently*

  2. the obscure says:

    This is the second thing I've read today that quoted that exact Rodney King quote. At least you didn't call him a philosopher.

Leave a Reply