Come Together

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"Come Together"
Single by The Beatles
from the album Abbey Road
A-side"Something"
Released6 October 1969 (US)
31 October 1969 (UK)
Format7"
Recorded21–30 July 1969,
EMI Studios, London
GenreBlues rock
Length4:18
LabelApple
Writer(s)Lennon–McCartney
ProducerGeorge 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
 
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"Come Together"
Single by The Beatles
from the album Abbey Road
A-side"Something"
Released6 October 1969 (US)
31 October 1969 (UK)
Format7"
Recorded21–30 July 1969,
EMI Studios, London
GenreBlues rock
Length4:18
LabelApple
Writer(s)Lennon–McCartney
ProducerGeorge 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] and 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 twenty-first single in the United Kingdom and twenty-sixth 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]

Contents

Origin and meaning

The song's history began when Lennon was inspired by Timothy Leary's campaign for governor of California titled "Come together, join the party" against Ronald Reagan, which promptly ended when Leary was sent to prison for possession of marijuana.[4] It has been speculated that each verse refers cryptically to each of The Beatles (e.g. "he's one holy roller" allegedly refers to the spiritually inclined George Harrison; "he got monkey finger, he shoot Coca-Cola" to Ringo Starr, the funny Beatle; "he got Ono sideboard, he one spinal cracker" to Lennon himself; and "got to be good-looking 'cause he's so hard to see" to Paul McCartney); however, it has also been suggested that the song has only a single "pariah-like protagonist" and Lennon was "painting another sardonic self-portrait".[5]

Recording

John Lennon played rhythm guitar and sang the vocal; Paul McCartney played bass; Ringo Starr played drums; and George Harrison played lead guitar. It was produced by George Martin and recorded at the end of July 1969 at Abbey Road Studios.[6] In the intro, Lennon says "shoot me" which is accompanied by his handclaps and McCartney's heavy bass riff.[6] 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.

Although McCartney composed the electric piano part, Lennon looked over his shoulder to learn it so he could perform it himself on the recording.[7] 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 [vocal] overdubs on this."[7]

Talking about the sessions in a 1970 interview, he said he was disappointed about not singing it live with Lennon, instead he overdubbed them later in the session:[9]

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.[9]

Release and acclaim

"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 and 31 October 1969 in the UK.

Rolling Stone ranked "Come Together" at #202 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[10] and #9 on their list of The Beatles' 100 Greatest Songs.[11]

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

This classic 1960s rock anthem with deep bluesy style was unlike any other song of its time in that it was constructed entirely of verse/refrains. There is no chorus and only one short guitar solo, acting as a bridge to interrupt the radical song structure. 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, which is a progression rarely used, the song "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" being a rare example. 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. It is also important to mention the introduction of F# 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 one bar phrase into the two bar phrase and the three bar overlap creates plenty of deceleration and pushes the title line of the song to the spotlight. 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). John Lennon decided to use modal interchange.

Lawsuit

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.[12] After settling out of court, Lennon promised to record three other songs owned by Levy.[13] "You Can't Catch Me" and "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.[14]

Personnel

personnel per Beatlesbible[9] and Ian MacDonald[15]

There is debate over if it was Lennon or McCartney playing the keys. McCartney said it was him in an interview in Playboy in December 1984, although other sources disagree.

Recent 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 being the backing vocals of "Come Together" are indeed sung by McCartney. The misinformation originated from a quote from Geoff Emerick in Music Radar, where he correctly only stated that McCartney did not sing in the choruses:

Paul might have been miffed, but I think he was more upset about not singing on the choruses.[9]

Covers

John Lennon solo version

"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.[16] This version of the song appears on the concert album Live in New York City.

Aerosmith version

"Come Together"
Single by Aerosmith
from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (soundtrack) and Aerosmith's Greatest Hits
B-side"Kings and Queens"
Released1978
FormatRecord
Recorded1978
GenreHard rock, blues rock
Length3:46
LabelColumbia
Writer(s)Lennon–McCartney
ProducerJack 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 #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.

The Aerosmith version is still frequently heard on mainstream and album rock radio stations. 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.

The Smoking' Mojo Filters

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 #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

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

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Sheff 2000, p. 201.
  2. ^ Wallgren 1982, p. 57.
  3. ^ everyHit.com 2009.
  4. ^ The Beatles Bible.
  5. ^ Gould, Jonathan (2008). Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America. London: Piatkus. p. 575. ISBN 978-0-7499-2988-6. 
  6. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, p. 181.
  7. ^ a b Emerick & Massey 2006, p. 285.
  8. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 358.
  9. ^ a b c d The Beatles Bible, Page on Come Together.
  10. ^ Rolling Stone 2007.
  11. ^ Rolling Stone 2010.
  12. ^ Miles 1997, p. 553.
  13. ^ Wenner 2000, p. 90.
  14. ^ Self 1992.
  15. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 355.
  16. ^ Edmonson, Jacqueline. John Lennon: A Biography. 2010, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 978-0-313-37938-3, p. 149
  17. ^ "Tales overview". Allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r213037. 
  18. ^ "PopJazz overview". Allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/album/r787780. 
  19. ^ "Warren Hill - PopJazz". SmoothViews.com. http://www.smoothviews.com/cdreviews/hill_popjazz.htm. 
  20. ^ "Come Together (Venir Juntos)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 1996-04-13. http://www.billboard.com/song/familia-rmm/come-together-venir-juntos/767323. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 

References

External links

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