Come Together

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This article is about the Beatles song. For other uses, see Come Together (disambiguation).
"Come Together"
Single by The Beatles
from the album Abbey Road
A-side "Something"
Released 6 October 1969 (US)
31 October 1969 (UK)
Format 7"
Recorded 21–30 July 1969,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Blues rock
Length 4:18
Label Apple
Writer(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
The Beatles singles chronology
"The Ballad of John and Yoko"
(1969)
"Something" / "Come Together"
(1969)
"Let It Be"
(1970)


Music sample
Abbey Road track listing

"Come Together" is a song by the Beatles written by John Lennon[1] but credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song is the opening track on the album Abbey Road, and was released as a double A-sided single with "Something", their 21st single in the United Kingdom and 26th in the United States. The song reached the top of the charts in the US,[2] and peaked at number four in the UK.[3]

Origin and meaning[edit]

The song's history began when Lennon was inspired by Timothy Leary's campaign for governor of California against Ronald Reagan, which promptly ended when Leary was sent to prison for possession of marijuana.[4]

The thing was created in the studio. It's gobbledygook; Come Together was an expression that Leary had come up with for his attempt at being president or whatever he wanted to be, and he asked me to write a campaign song. I tried and tried, but I couldn't come up with one. But I came up with this, Come Together, which would've been no good to him - you couldn't have a campaign song like that, right?

—John Lennon, All We Are Saying, David Sheff

It has been speculated[by whom?] that each verse refers cryptically to one of the Beatles.[5][unreliable source?][6][unreliable source?] It has also been suggested that the song has only a single "pariah-like protagonist" and Lennon was "painting another sardonic self-portrait".[7]

Recording[edit]

Lennon played rhythm guitar and sang the vocal, McCartney played bass, Harrison played lead guitar, and Starr played drums. It was produced by George Martin and recorded at the end of July 1969 at Abbey Road Studios.[8] In the intro, Lennon says "shoot me" which is accompanied by his handclaps and McCartney's heavy bass riff.[8] The famous Beatles' "walrus" from "I Am the Walrus" and "Glass Onion" returns in the line "he got walrus gumboot", followed by "he got Ono sideboard". Bluesman Muddy Waters is also mentioned in the song.

Music critic Ian MacDonald reports that McCartney sang a backing vocal,[9] but recording engineer Geoff Emerick said that Lennon did all the vocals himself, and when a frustrated McCartney asked Lennon, "What do you want me to do on this track, John?", Lennon replied, "Don't worry, I'll do the [vocal] overdubs on this."[10]

Talking about the sessions in a 1970 interview, McCartney said he was disappointed about not singing live with Lennon; instead, he overdubbed his vocals later in the session:

Even on Abbey Road we don't do harmonies like we used to. I think it's sad. On "Come Together" I would have liked to sing harmony with John, and I think he would have liked me to, but I was too embarrassed to ask him, and I don't work to the best of my abilities in that situation.

Release and acclaim[edit]

"Come Together" was released as a double A-side with "Something" and as the opening track of Abbey Road. The single was released on 6 October 1969 in the US, was on the charts for 18 weeks, and reached number 1. The single had less success when it was released on 31 October 1969 in the UK, only reaching number 4, possibly due to the BBC banning the song because they considered the verse "He shoot Coca-Cola" to be product placement.

Rolling Stone ranked "Come Together" at #202 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[11] and #9 on their list of the Beatles' 100 Greatest Songs.[12][13]

Along with "Something", "Come Together" became The Beatles' 18th number one hit on the US charts, surpassing Elvis Presley's all-time record of seventeen.

On the compilation album Love, "Come Together" is the 19th track. Instrumentals and some backing vocals from "Dear Prudence" fade in followed by the "Can you take me back" section of "Cry Baby Cry" as a transition.

Song analysis[edit]

"Come Together" consists of a repeating verse/refrain structure, broken up by a guitar solo acting as a bridge. For the first eight bars, the tonic note D is repeated, eventually moving to the V chord and then to the IV chord. It then moves to the VI minor chord. The refrain in actuality is three bars long, because the melody keeps going after the last A5 chord and comes to rest on the D5 chord after that. F# is introduced in the melody with a B minor triad. The tonic is held for four bars between each verse and is the same as the contents of the introduction.

Within the verse there are four one-bar structures; each one a non-sequitur. The lyrics end each time on the abrupt beat four of each measure, giving the verse an AAAA phrasing structure. The phrasing structure in the second half of the verse is two bars of BB. The C phrasing structure of the refrain has three measures becoming one long phrase and ending on the word "me" which ties everything together. There is an eleven-bar verse/refrain from a ten bar form. The melody of the verse stays within the range of a perfect fourth. Using mostly three notes (D, F, C) the tonic, flat three and flat seven, it moves away later only for contrast when it hits the II (E) and stays on that note for two bars. The refrain stands out as the highest notes in the piece (A).

Lawsuit[edit]

In 1973, "Come Together" was the subject of a lawsuit brought against Lennon by Big Seven Music Corp. (owned by Morris Levy) who was the publisher of Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me". Levy contended that it sounded similar musically to Berry's original and shared some lyrics (Lennon sang "Here come ol' flattop, he come groovin' up slowly" and Berry's had sung "Here come a flattop, he was movin' up with me"). Before recording, Lennon and McCartney deliberately slowed the song down and added a heavy bass riff in order to make the song more original.[14] After settling out of court, Lennon promised to record three other songs owned by Levy.[15] A primitive version of "Ya Ya" with Lennon and his son Julian was released on the album Walls and Bridges in 1974. "You Can't Catch Me" and another version of "Ya Ya" were released on Lennon's 1975 album Rock 'n' Roll, but the third, "Angel Baby", remained unreleased until after Lennon's death. Levy again sued Lennon for breach of contract, and was eventually awarded $6,795. Lennon countersued after Levy released an album of Lennon material using tapes that were in his possession and was eventually awarded $84,912.96. The album was called Roots.[16]

Personnel[edit]

personnel per Ian MacDonald[17]

According to Geoff Emerick, McCartney composed the electric piano part, but Lennon looked over his shoulder to learn it so he could perform it himself on the recording.[10] In a December 1984 interview in Playboy, McCartney said he played the electric piano part on the recording.[citation needed]

The availability of separate tracks from the original Beatles multitracks (due to release of Rock Band) have made fresh investigation of the Beatles personnel data possible. One of the discoveries is that on the verses of "Come Together", the backing vocals are sung by McCartney. The idea that McCartney did not sing at all on the track may have originated from a quote from Geoff Emerick in Music Radar, where he correctly stated that McCartney did not sing on the choruses: "Paul might have been miffed, but I think he was more upset about not singing on the choruses".[citation needed]

Covers[edit]

John Lennon solo version[edit]

"Come Together" was the only Beatles' tune Lennon sang during his 1972 Madison Square Garden concert. It was Lennon's last full-length concert performance, and his only one after leaving the Beatles. He was backed by the band Elephant's Memory.[18] This version of the song appears on the concert album Live in New York City.

Aerosmith version[edit]

"Come Together"
Single by Aerosmith
from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
B-side "Kings and Queens"
Released 1978
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1978
Genre Hard rock, blues rock
Length 3:46
Label Columbia
Producer(s) Jack Douglas
Aerosmith singles chronology
"Get It Up"
(1978)
"Come Together"
(1978)
"Chip Away the Stone"
(1978)

American hard rock band Aerosmith performed one of the first and most successful cover versions of "Come Together". It was recorded in 1978 and appeared in the movie and on the soundtrack to the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in which the band also appeared. The single was an immediate success, reaching number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, following on the heels of a string of Top 40 hits for the band in the mid-1970s. However it would be the last Top 40 hit for the band for nearly a decade.

A rare live demo of the song was also released months later on Aerosmith's live album Live! Bootleg. The song also featured on Aerosmith's Greatest Hits, the band's first singles compilation released in 1980. The song has also surfaced on a number of Aerosmith compilations and live albums since then, as well as on the soundtrack for the film Armageddon. Aerosmith still occasionally perform "Come Together" in concert.

Since 2006, New Zealand telecommunications company Telecom used a cover of this song for its "Come Together" campaign.

Arctic Monkeys version[edit]

"Come Together"
Single by Arctic Monkeys
from the album Isles of Wonder
Released 2012
Recorded 23 July 2012
London Olympic Stadium
Genre Blues rock
Length 3:08
Label Decca Music Group (Appearing courtesy of Domino Recording Company)
Arctic Monkeys singles chronology
"R U Mine?"
(2012)
"Come Together"
(2012)
"Do I Wanna Know?"
(2013)

Arctic Monkeys performed a cover of the song during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. A live recording (albeit from a rehearsal), from the London Olympic Stadium on 23 July 2012, was featured on the soundtrack album of the ceremony, Isles of Wonder. It charted at number 21 in the UK.

The Smokin' Mojo Filters[edit]

"Come Together"
Single by The Smokin' Mojo Filters
from the album HELP
Released 4 December 1995
Format CD single, 7" vinyl
Length 3:32
Label Go! Discs
Paul McCartney chronology
"A Leaf"
(with Anya Alexeyev)
(1995)
"Come Together"
(1995)
"Young Boy"
(1997)

Paul McCartney was also part of a different version of the song with Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller on an updated version of the classic for the 1995 HELP charity record, under the name the Smokin' Mojo Filters. Weller performed the lead vocal duties, with McCartney & Gallagher providing backing vocals, harmonies and bass and guitar. This version made it to number 19 on the British charts in December 1995. In 2005 Weller recorded a new version of the song as part of a double A-sided single.

Other notable covers[edit]

The song has since become one of the most covered songs of all time; covers are listed as follows:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sheff 2000, p. 201.
  2. ^ Wallgren 1982, p. 57.
  3. ^ everyHit.com 2009.
  4. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 314.
  5. ^ "Come Together". Beatles #9. Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  6. ^ "Beatles: Come Together Meaning". Lyric Interpretations. 2008-08-23. Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  7. ^ Gould, Jonathan (2008). Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. London: Piatkus. p. 575. ISBN 978-0-7499-2988-6. 
  8. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, p. 181.
  9. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 358.
  10. ^ a b Emerick & Massey 2006, p. 285.
  11. ^ Rolling Stone 2007.
  12. ^ "9. Come Together". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  13. ^ Rolling Stone 2010.
  14. ^ Miles 1997, p. 553.
  15. ^ Wenner 2000, p. 90.
  16. ^ Self 1992.
  17. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 355.
  18. ^ Edmonson, Jacqueline. John Lennon: A Biography. 2010, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 978-0-313-37938-3, p. 149
  19. ^ "Tales overview". Allmusic.com. 
  20. ^ "PopJazz overview". Allmusic.com. 
  21. ^ "Warren Hill - PopJazz". SmoothViews.com. 
  22. ^ "Come Together (Venir Juntos)". Billboard. 1996-04-13. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  23. ^ "Jennifer Lopez and Mary J. Blige Duet at Chime for Change Concert". Rap-Up.com. 1 June 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  24. ^ "Mumford & Sons’ ‘Gentlemen Of The Road’ Tour Brings Big Excitement To Small Town America". radio.com. 2 September 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Wedding Bell Blues" by The 5th Dimension
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
29 November 1969 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam