Come Together

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Abbey Road LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1969

Master album


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Glass Onion

Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

“Come Together” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon 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 and peaked at No. 4 in the United Kingdom.

Origin and meaning

“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. 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?”

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

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.

Recording

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. 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. 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, 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.

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

“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 legacy

“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.

Rolling Stone ranked “Come Together” at No. 202 on their list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and No. 9 on their list of the Beatles’ 100 Greatest Songs.

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

Lawsuit

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”. 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. 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. 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.

Personnel

[…] 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.” […]

Other versions

[…] 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. […]

Paul McCartney in "Many Years From Now", by Barry Miles:

He originally brought it over as a very perky little song, and I pointed out to him that it was very similar to Chuck Berry’s You Can’t Catch Me. John acknowledged it was rather close to it so I said, ‘Well, anything you can do to get away from that.’ I suggested that we tried it swampy – ‘swampy’ was the word I used – so we did, we took it right down. I laid that bass line down which very much makes the mood. It’s actually a bass line that people now use very often in rap records. If it’s not a sample, they use that riff. But that was my contribution to that.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] stereo 7 Aug 1969.
UK: Apple R5814 single 1969, Apple PCS 7088 Abbey Road 1969, Apple PCSP 718 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.
US: Apple 2654 single 1969, Apple SO-383 Abbey Road 1969, Apple SKBO-3404 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46446 2 Abbey Road 1987, EMI single 1989, EMI CDP 7 97039 2 The Beatles 1967-1970 1993.

Last updated on May 23, 2021

Lyrics

Here come old flat top
He come groovin' up slowly
He got joo joo eyeballs
He one holy rollers
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker
He just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine
He got toe jam football
He got monkey finger
He shoot Coca Cola
He say I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is
You got to be free
Come together, right now
Over me

He bad production
He got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard
He one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knees
Hold you in his armchair
You can feel his disease
Come together, right now
Over me

He roller coaster
He got early warning
He got muddy water
He one Mojo filter
He say one and one and one is three
Got to be good looking
Cause he's so hard to see
Come together right now
Over me

Officially appears on


Abbey Road

LP • Released in 1969

4:20 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Electric piano, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Maracas
John Lennon :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison :
Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 21, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
22, 23, 25, 29, 30 Jul 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 07, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Something / Come Together

7" Single • Released in 1969

4:17 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Electric piano, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Maracas
John Lennon :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison :
Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 21, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
22, 23, 25, 29, 30 Jul 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 07, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


1967-1970 (UK version, 1973)

Official album • Released in 1973

4:20 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Electric piano, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Maracas
John Lennon :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison :
Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 21, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
22, 23, 25, 29, 30 Jul 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 07, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Something / Come Together (UK - 1989)

7" Single • Released in 1989

4:17 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Electric piano, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Maracas
John Lennon :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison :
Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 21, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
22, 23, 25, 29, 30 Jul 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 07, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Something / Come Together (UK - Picture Disc - 1989)

7" Single • Released in 1989

4:17 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Electric piano, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Maracas
John Lennon :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison :
Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 21, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
22, 23, 25, 29, 30 Jul 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 07, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The HELP Album

Official album • Released in 1995

Studio versionB

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Paul Weller :
Vocals

Session Recording:
Sep 04, 1995
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Come Together

EP • Released in 1995

Studio versionB


Anthology 3

Official album • Released in 1996

3:40 • OuttakeC • Stereo • Take 1 - Not playing an instrument, John clapped his hands while singing, adding tambourine late in the piece, with the other Beatles contributing what for the first take is a notably cohesive bass, guitar and drums backing to fill out this four-track recording. The absence of the echo that, at John's request, would smother the master version lends a stark clarity to the lyrics, which altered slightly when the definitive vocal was overdubbed.

George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 21, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


1

Official album • Released in 2000

4:20 • Studio versionA2000 • Stereo • 2000 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Electric piano, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums, Maracas
John Lennon :
Handclaps, Rhythm guitar, Tambourine, Vocals
George Harrison :
Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Peter Mew :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Jul 21, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
22, 23, 25, 29, 30 Jul 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 07, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Love

Official album • Released in 2006

4:45 • Studio versionD

George Martin :
Producer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Paul Hicks :
Remix engineer
Sam Okell :
Remix engineer assistant
Chris Bolster :
Remix engineer assistant
Mirek Stiles :
Remix engineer assistant

Session Mixing:
Circa 2004-2006
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Bootlegs


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

3:40 • Outtake • Take 1 Stereo


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

0:15 • Outtake • Take 4 Partial + Take 5 Announcement Mono


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

0:31 • Outtake • Unknown Take i Mono


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

0:14 • Outtake • Unknown Take ii + iii Mono


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

6:45 • Outtake • Record Producers Stereo


Films


Come Together

2015 • For The Beatles

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

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