Listen here, cowboy, I’ve got a bone to pick with country music. Several in fact. I’m all for jokes like, “A horse walked into a bar. The bartender asked, ‘Why the long face?'” but I draw the line at actually giving beer to horses. Also, there are approximately 750 award shows devoted specifically to country music annually. This is an excessive and not at all hyperbolic number. And country music artists are by far the most frequently hatted artists of any genre. What are they trying to hide?
That said, there is one man who consistently makes darn good rootin’ tootin’ beer can-shootin’ free-of-gluten Vladimir Putin country music, to adopt the parlance of the genre. He doesn’t drive a truck and he doesn’t think that Texas is the best state in all of ‘Merica and he certainly wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a–
Son of a bitch.
Obviously I’m referring to Paul McCartney, whose small but notable canon of country songs are actually quite enjoyable. There are a number of certified classics in the bunch over the years. The mid-70s alone produced “Country Dreamer,” “One More Kiss,” and the immortal “Sally G”…all of which are superior to “What Goes On,” but you have to start somewhere, and come on, at the end of the day, this is a song written for Ringo to sing. The drummer actually earns his first songwriting co-credit–“What Goes On” is the sole Lennon/McCartney/Starkey composition–for what he claims is a contribution of “about five words.” (This just makes George’s lack of credit on “And I Love Her” all the more infuriating.)
“What Goes On” seems like your standard lightweight Ringo throwaway for two verses. Boy likes girl. Boy sees girl with other boy. First boy is distraught. This is all familiar territory for the Beatles, explored with far greater depth and in higher quality on Beatles for Sale opener “No Reply.” The final verse, though, gets a bit more direct, with boy asking girl, “Did you mean to break my heart and watch me die?” Yikes. Kudos to boy for being vulnerable, but goodness gracious, that’s a bit heavier than I’m used to for a Ringo track. But, to again reverently adopt country music vernacular, it sure as grandma’s grits and gravy is catchy, y’all hear?