Come Together

"Come Together" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon[3] and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song is the opening track on their 1969 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[4] and peaked at No. 4 in the United Kingdom.[5]

"Come Together"
Come Together-Something (single cover).jpg
1989 UK reissue picture sleeve
Single by the Beatles
from the album Abbey Road
A-side"Something" (double A-side)
Released6 October 1969 (1969-10-06)
Recorded21–30 July 1969
StudioEMI, London
Genre
Length4:19
LabelApple
Songwriter(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)
Audio sample
Music video
"Come Together" on YouTube

Origin and meaningEdit

"Come Together" was inspired by a request from Timothy Leary to write a song for his campaign for governor of California against Ronald Reagan, which promptly ended when Leary was sent to prison for possession of marijuana.[6] John Lennon recalled:

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?[7]

Beatles historian Jonathan Gould has suggested that the song has only a single "pariah-like protagonist" and Lennon was "painting another sardonic self-portrait".[8]

In a December 1987 interview by Selina Scott on the television show West 57th Street, George Harrison stated that he wrote two lines of the song.[9]

RecordingEdit

Lennon played rhythm guitar and electric piano and sang the lead vocals, Paul McCartney played bass, George Harrison played lead guitar, and Ringo Starr played drums. It was produced by George Martin and recorded in late July 1969 at EMI Studios in London.[10] In the intro and after each chorus, Lennon says "shoot me", which is accompanied by echoing handclaps and a distinctive drum part by Starr as well as McCartney's prominent bass riff.[10] 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,[11] 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."[12]

In a 1970 interview with Ray Connolly of the Evening Standard, McCartney expressed his disappointment about not singing with Lennon.[13] He told Connolly:[14]

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 legacyEdit

"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 Billboard Hot 100 chart for 16 weeks, and reached No. 1. The single released on 31 October 1969 in the UK, reaching No. 4.

The first take of the song, recorded on 21 July 1969, with slightly different lyrics, was released in 1996 on the outtake compilation Anthology 3, and take five of the song was released on the Abbey Road 50th Anniversary release.[15]

Rolling Stone ranked "Come Together" at No. 202 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[16] and No. 9 on their list of the Beatles' 100 Greatest Songs.[17][18]

Ringo Starr has said this is his favourite Beatles song in an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.[19]

LawsuitEdit

In late 1969, "Come Together" was the subject of a copyright infringement claim brought against Lennon by Big Seven Music, who was the publisher of Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me".[20] Morris Levy, the owner of Big Seven Music, 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] The case was settled out of court in 1973, with Levy's lawyers agreeing that Lennon would compensate by recording three Big Seven songs for his next album.[21] 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.[22]

PersonnelEdit

Personnel per Ian MacDonald:[3]

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. However, in an interview with Music Radar, Geoff Emerick 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."[23]

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[24]
sales since 2009
Gold 25,000 
United Kingdom (BPI)[25]
sales since 2010
Platinum 600,000 

  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


Cover versionsEdit

Ike & Tina Turner versionEdit

"Come Together"
 
French picture sleeve
Single by Ike & Tina Turner & the Ikettes
from the album Come Together
B-side"Honky Tonk Women"
ReleasedDecember 1969 (1969-12)
Genre
Length3:37
Label
Songwriter(s)Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s)Ike Turner
Ike & Tina Turner singles chronology
"I Wanna Jump"
(1969)
"Come Together"
(1969)
"I Want to Take You Higher"
(1970)
The Ikettes singles chronology
"Make 'Em Wait"
(1968)
"Come Together"
(1970)
"I Want to Take You Higher"
(1970)

A month after the original version by the Beatles was released, Ike & Tina Turner began performing their rendition of "Come Together," most notably at Madison Square Garden in November 1969.[26] Due to the public response to their live performances, a studio version was released on Minit Records in December 1969.[27] The single, also credited to the Ikettes, reached number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 21 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.[28] The B-side features another soul-infused rock cover, "Honky Tonk Woman" by the Rolling Stones.[29]

"Come Together" is the lead single from Ike & Tina Turner's 1970 album Come Together.[30] The song has been released on various compilations, including Greatest Hits (1976), Proud Mary: The Best of Ike & Tina Turner (1991), and The Ike & Tina Turner Story: 1960–1975 (2007). A live version was recorded at L'Olympia in Paris on January 30, 1971, and released later that year on their live album Live in Paris.

John Lennon solo versionEdit

"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.[31] 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 versionEdit

"Come Together"
 
Single by Aerosmith
from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
B-side"Kings and Queens"
Released31 July 1978 (1978-07-31)
Recorded1978
Genre
Length3:46
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s)Jack Douglas
Aerosmith singles chronology
"Get It Up"
(1978)
"Come Together"
(1978)
"Chip Away the Stone"
(1978)
Music video
"Come Together" (audio) on YouTube

American hard rock band Aerosmith performed one of the 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.

Gary Clark Jr. & Junkie XL versionEdit

"Come Together"
Single by Gary Clark Jr. & Junkie XL
from the album Justice League: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
ReleasedSeptember 8, 2017 (2017-09-08)
Genre
Length3:13
Label
Songwriter(s)Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s)Junkie XL
Gary Clark Jr. singles chronology
"Ride"
(2017)
"Come Together"
(2017)
"I'm On 3.0"
(2017)
Music video
"Come Together" (Official Music Video) on YouTube

On September 8, 2017, American musician Gary Clark Jr. and Dutch composer Junkie XL released a cover version of "Come Together" as the first single from the soundtrack of the 2017 superhero film Justice League.[32][33] A music video featuring Gary Clark Jr. on guitar and vocals interspersed with cuts of footage from the film was released on October 27.[34] The single reached number 27 on the Billboard Digital Songs Sales and number 7 on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs.[35][36]

Weekly charts

Chart (2017) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[37] 17
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[38] 39
US Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[39] 31
US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)[40] 7
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[41] 15
US Rock Airplay (Billboard)[42] 31

Other versionsEdit

Paul McCartney recorded an updated version of "Come Together" with Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller for the 1995 charity album Help, 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. Their rendition reached No. 19 on the UK Singles Chart in December 1995.[43]

Michael Jackson also covered the song in 1986. The song was recorded for Bad but was scrapped and instead put on HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. It was featured on the movie Moonwalker and also had an official video. Notably, it was the only Beatles song covered by Jackson on an official release, as Jackson had purchased the publishing rights to the Beatles catalog in 1985 and thus owned the rights to "Come Together" at the time he covered the song.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Freeman, Phil (2007). Marooned: The Next Generation of Desert Island Discs. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81485-3. It's a surface-heavy blues-rock tune, flanging and wailing away…
  2. ^ Courrier, Kevin (30 December 2008). Artificial Paradise: The Dark Side of the Beatles' Utopian Dream: The Dark Side of the Beatles' Utopian Dream. ABC-CLIO. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-313-34587-6.
  3. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 355.
  4. ^ Wallgren 1982, p. 57.
  5. ^ everyHit.com 2009.
  6. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 314.
  7. ^ Sheff 2000.
  8. ^ Gould, Jonathan (2008). Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. London: Piatkus. p. 575. ISBN 978-0-7499-2988-6.
  9. ^ Badman, Keith (2001). The Beatles Diary: Volume 2: After the Break-Up: 1970–2001. London: Omnibus Press. pp. 397–98. ISBN 978-0-7119-8307-6.
  10. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, p. 181.
  11. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 358.
  12. ^ Emerick & Massey 2006, p. 285.
  13. ^ Doggett 2011, p. 132.
  14. ^ a b Miles 1997, p. 553.
  15. ^ Winn, John C. (2009). That Magic Feeling: The Beatles' Recorded Legacy, Volume Two, 1966–1970. New York: Three Rivers Press. p. 307. ISBN 978-0-307-45239-9.
  16. ^ Rolling Stone 2007.
  17. ^ "9. Come Together". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. 19 September 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  18. ^ Rolling Stone 2010.
  19. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZKZY2pyt4c
  20. ^ Doggett 2011, pp. 106, 210.
  21. ^ Doggett 2011, p. 210.
  22. ^ Self 1992.
  23. ^ Bosso, Joe (6 February 2014). "Geoff Emerick on The Beatles in the studio". musicradar.com. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  24. ^ "Italian single certifications – The Beatles – Come Together" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 26 November 2020. Select "2017" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Come Together" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  25. ^ "British single certifications – Beatles – Come Together". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  26. ^ "Turner Revue Stages Soul Show That Grabs Audience". Billboard. 6 December 1969. p. 22 – via World Radio History.
  27. ^ "New Ike & Tina Single Rushed Out". Record World. 29 December 1969. p. 44 – via World Radio History.
  28. ^ "Best Selling Soul Singles". Billboard. 14 March 1970. p. 36 – via World Radio History.
  29. ^ "Record Reviews". Cash Box. 10 January 1970. p. 18 – via World Radio History.
  30. ^ "Best Selling Soul LP's". Billboard. 4 July 1970. p. 52 – via World Radio History.
  31. ^ Edmonson, Jacqueline. John Lennon: A Biography. 2010, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 978-0-313-37938-3, p. 149
  32. ^ "Come Together - Single". Apple Music. Apple Inc. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  33. ^ Grow, Kory (3 November 2017). "Gary Clark Jr. on 'Come Together' Cover: 'I Hope Paul and Ringo Dig It'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  34. ^ Williams, Taylor (28 October 2017). "Gary Clark Jr.'s Come Together Cover Gets a Justice League Music Video". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  35. ^ "Gary Clark Jr. Chart History - HDS". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  36. ^ "Gary Clark Jr. Chart History - ARK". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  37. ^ "Ultratop.be – Gary Clark Jr. – Come Together" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  38. ^ "Gary Clark Jr. Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  39. ^ "Gary Clark Jr. Chart History (Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  40. ^ "Gary Clark Jr. Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  41. ^ "Gary Clark Jr. Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  42. ^ "Gary Clark Jr. Chart History (Rock Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  43. ^ "Smokin' Mojo Filters". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 16 July 2020.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit