Info about all Beatles' songs and albums

“What Goes On”

Listen to “What Goes On”
  • Published on 1965
  • Author: Lennon/McCartney/Starkey
  • Track 8 on “Rubber Soul

RINGO 1966: “I contributed about five words to “What Goes On.’ (laughs) And I haven’t done a thing since!”

JOHN 1972: “A very early song of mine. Ringo and Paul wrote a new middle-eight together when we recorded it.”

JOHN 1980: “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 liked to waste anything.”

About “What Goes On”

“What Goes On” is featured as the eighth track on 1965 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 and the only song on Rubber Soul that features Ringo Starr on lead vocals. The song reached number 81 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1966.

John Lennon wrote the song in early 1959, likely at 251 Menlove Avenue. The early version of the song is heavily inspired by Buddy Holly and differed substantially from the Rubber Soul version with only the chorus being the same.

The Beatles nearly recorded the song in March 1963, but ultimately did not record the song until November 1965 for Rubber Soul.

Meaning of “What Goes On”

The lyrics of “What Goes On” are about the ups and downs of romantic relationships. The narrator is reflecting on the unpredictable nature of love and how emotions can fluctuate. The title phrase, “what goes on,” suggests a sense of curiosity or inquiry into the complexities of human emotions and interactions.

The song is relatively straightforward in its lyrics compared to some of The Beatles’ more cryptic or symbolic works. It’s a country-influenced tune and stands out as one of the band’s ventures into this musical style.

Overall, “What Goes On” conveys a relatable message about the complexities of love and relationships, and it’s notable for its catchy melody and simple, heartfelt lyrics.


  • Ringo Starr – vocal, drums
  • John Lennon – harmony vocal, rhythm guitar
  • Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass guitar
  • George Harrison – lead guitar

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *