Come Together

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"Come Together"
Come Together-Something (single cover).jpg
1989 UK re-issue picture sleeve
Single by the Beatles
from the album Abbey Road
A-side "Something"
Released 6 October 1969
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 21–30 July 1969,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Blues rock
Length 4:18
Label Apple
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
The Beatles singles chronology
"The Ballad of John and Yoko"
(1969) The Ballad of John and Yoko1969
"Something"/"Come Together"
(1969) SomethingCome Together1969
"Let It Be"
(1970) Let It Be1970
Audio sample

"Come Together" is a song by the Beatles written primarily by John Lennon[1] and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song is the opening track on the album Abbey Road and was also released as a single coupled with "Something". The song reached the top of the charts in the United States[2] and peaked at No. 4 in the United Kingdom.[3]

Origin and meaning[edit]

"Come Together" started as Lennon's attempt to write a song for 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?[5]

Beatles historian Jonathan Gould has suggested that the song has only a single "pariah-like protagonist" and Lennon was "painting another sardonic self-portrait".[6]

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.[7] In the intro, Lennon says: "shoot me", which is accompanied by his handclaps and McCartney's heavy bass riff.[7] 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,[8] 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 overdubs on this."[9]

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

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.[10]

Release and legacy[edit]

"Come Together" was released as the B-side of "Something" and as the opening track of Abbey Road. The single was released on 6 October 1969 in the US, was on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 16 weeks, and reached No. 1. The single had less success when it was released on 31 October 1969 in the UK, only reaching No. 4, possibly due to the BBC banning the song because the mention of Coca-Cola violated the BBC's policy against 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 Billboard Hot 100 charts, surpassing Elvis Presley's record of 17.

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.[10] After settling out of court, Lennon promised to record three other songs owned by Levy.[14] A brief 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.[15]

Personnel[edit]

personnel per Ian MacDonald[1]

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.[9]

The availability of separate tracks from the original Beatles multi-tracks (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. In an interview with Music Radar, Geoff Emerick correctly stated that McCartney did not sing on the choruses: "Initially, Paul played the electric piano part, but John kind of looked over his shoulder and studied what he was playing. When it came time to record it, John played the electric piano instead of Paul. Paul might have been miffed, but I think he was more upset about not singing on the choruses — John did his own backing vocals."[16]

Cover versions[edit]

"Come Together"
Cometogetheraero.JPG
Single by Aerosmith
from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
B-side "Kings and Queens"
Released July 1978
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 1978
Genre Hard rock, blues rock
Length 3:46
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) Jack Douglas
Aerosmith singles chronology
"Get It Up"
(1978)
"Come Together"
(1978)
"Chip Away the Stone"
(1978)
"Get It Up"
(1978)
"Come Together"
(1978)
"Chip Away the Stone"
(1978)
Music video
"Come Together" (audio) on YouTube

Joe Cocker[edit]

Joe Cocker has also recorded a cover version of " Come Together ".

Ike & Tina Turner[edit]

Ike & Tina Turner released a version of "Come Together" as the title track of their 1970 album. The single reached No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100.

John Lennon solo version[edit]

"Come Together" was the only Beatles' song Lennon sang during his 1972 Madison Square Garden concerts. It was Lennon's only full-length concert performance after leaving the Beatles. He was backed by the band Elephant's Memory.[17] This version of the song appears on the concert album Live in New York City, recorded on 30 August 1972 and released in 1986.

Aerosmith version[edit]

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.

Another recording of the song was released several 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.

Michael Jackson[edit]

Originally recorded for his 1988 film "Moonwalker" (featuring John Lennon's son Sean Lennon), Jackson released this version on his 1995 album "HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I" and as the B-Side for his 1992 single "Remember The Time". The song was also featured during his 1996 performances of the HIStory World Tour along with his song D.S.

The Smokin' Mojo Filters[edit]

Paul McCartney was also part of a different version of the song with Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller on an updated version for the 1995 HELP charity record, under the name the Smokin' Mojo Filters. Weller performed the lead vocal duties, with McCartney and Gallagher providing backing vocals, harmonies and bass and guitar. This version made it to No. 19 on the British chart in December 1995. In 2005 Weller recorded a new version of the song as part of a double A-sided single.

George Martin version[edit]

George Martin recorded a version of the song with vocals by Robin Williams and Bobby McFerrin for his 1998 album In My Life.

Arctic Monkeys version[edit]

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 No. 21 in the UK.

Godsmack version[edit]

Godsmack recorded a version of the song for their 2012 album Live & Inspired.

Soundgarden

Soundgarden recorded a version of this song for their 2014 release Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path, a 3 disc set of (disc 1)-Originals, (disc 2)-Covers and (disc 3)-Oddities.

Junkie XL and Gary Clark Jr.[edit]

Composer Junkie XL and Gary Clark Jr. recorded a version of the song for the 2017 film Justice League, which was debuted in March 2017 alongside the first trailer for the movie.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 355.
  2. ^ Wallgren 1982, p. 57.
  3. ^ everyHit.com 2009.
  4. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 314.
  5. ^ Sheff 2000.
  6. ^ Gould, Jonathan (2008). Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. London: Piatkus. p. 575. ISBN 978-0-7499-2988-6. 
  7. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, p. 181.
  8. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 358.
  9. ^ a b Emerick & Massey 2006, p. 285.
  10. ^ a b Miles 1997, p. 553.
  11. ^ Rolling Stone 2007.
  12. ^ "9. Come Together". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  13. ^ Rolling Stone 2010.
  14. ^ Wenner 2000, p. 90.
  15. ^ Self 1992.
  16. ^ Bosso, Joe (6 February 2014). "Geoff Emerick on The Beatles in the studio". musicradar.com. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 17 February 2016. 
  17. ^ Edmonson, Jacqueline. John Lennon: A Biography. 2010, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 978-0-313-37938-3, p. 149

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