Sunday, December 06, 2009

"Come Together"

"Come Together" is a song by The Beatles written primarily by John Lennon and credited to Lennon/McCartney. The song is the lead-off track on The Beatles' September 1969 album Abbey Road. One month later it also appeared as one of the sides of the group's twenty-first single (it was a double A-side, the other side being George Harrison's "Something") in the United Kingdom, their twenty-sixth in the United States. The song reached the top of the charts in the U.S., while becoming a Top 10 hit in the UK.


The song's history began with Lennon writing a song for Timothy Leary's failed gubernatorial campaign in California against Ronald Reagan, one which promptly ended when Leary was sent to prison for possession of marijuana.


"Come Together" was the subject of a lawsuit brought against Lennon by Chuck Berry's music publisher, Morris Levy, because one line in "Come Together" closely resembles a line of Berry's "You Can't Catch Me": (i.e., The Beatles' "Here come ol' flattop, he come groovin' up slowly" vs. Berry's "Here come up flattop, he was groovin' up with me"). After settling out of court, Lennon promised to record three other songs owned by Levy. "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 played rhythm guitar in addition to singing the vocal. It was produced by George Martin and recorded at the end of July 1969 at Abbey Road Studios. Lennon says "shoot me" while Paul McCartney covers it up with a 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.

Release and acclaim

"Come Together" was released as a double A-side with "Something" and as the opening track of Abbey Road.

For a time, the song was banned by the BBC, as they believed the song's reference to "shoot[ing] Coca-Cola" could be construed as either a cocaine reference or an advertisement.

Rolling Stone ranked "Come Together" at #202 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

On the compilation album Love, "Come Together" is the 19th track. Sections of "Dear Prudence" and "Cry Baby Cry" fade in at the end of the track.

The song is used in the film A Bronx Tale during the fight scene at Sonny´s bar. It also serves as a recurring motif in the Nora Roberts' novel Public Secrets, a story about a 1960s rock band (not unlike The Beatles) and their rollercoaster journey through 3 decades of rock music as told through the eyes of the lead singer's daughter.


* John Lennon: lead and backing vocals; rhythm guitar; electric piano; hand-claps and tambourine.
* Paul McCartney: bass.
* George Harrison: lead guitar.
* Ringo Starr: drums and maracas.


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, which the band also appeared in. 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 was also featured on Aerosmith's Greatest Hits, the band's single-disc 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 performs "Come Together" in concert.

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

The song has since become one of the most covered songs of all time:

* Eurythmics covered the song in 1987, but it was not released until 2005 as a Bonus Track on the digitally remastered version of Savage.
* Mystic Siva,an American psychedelic rock band covered the song on their album "Under The Influence" (1969-70)
* Labyrinth covered the song on their album "6 Days to Nowhere" released 2007
* Tina Turner covered the song for the 1976 ephemeral musical documentary All This and World War II. Prior to that,her cover was featured on her and then husband's Ike's album of the same name. This version peaked at #57 on the U.S. Hot 100 and #21 on the R&B charts in 1970.
* Do As Infinity performed a live cover of a metal version of the song in Japan during a Beatles celebration event.
* Michael Jackson, who owns the rights to the song, also covered "Come Together" for the concert film Michael Jackson: Moonwalker. A different recording (essentially the same version in a different key) appears on Jackson's studio album, HIStory.
* Axl Rose and Bruce Springsteen later played "Come Together" before John Lennon's induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
* Soundgarden covered the song on the "Hands All Over" single, giving it a very grunge sound. The band's cover also appeared on its Loudest Love EP.
* Robin Williams and Bobby McFerrin recorded a unique version for the Beatles tribute album In My Life in which McFerrin performs the characteristic bass and guitar intro with his voice, and Williams sings
* Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller played with Paul McCartney on a version of the song for the 1995 HELP charity record, under the name The Smokin' Mojo Filters. This version made #19 on the British chart in December. In 2005 Weller recorded a new version of the song as part of a double-a side single.
* The Lynne Arriale Trio recorded a jazz version of the song, which was the title track of their album Come Together
* Sugababes covered the song as a B-Side for their single, "Ugly".
* There is also an instrumental version by Marcus Miller on his album Tales.
* Elton John covered the song as a tribute to Lennon during his "One Night Only: The Greatest Hits" concert.
* Victoria Beckham and Damon Dash sampled the song as an intro to one of Dash's mixtapes.
* Enrique Bunbury made a cover of the song and published it in his 1997 single "Planeta Sur".
* Craig David, performed a live version on Top of The Pops 2 in 2003.
* The Supremes (post-Diana Ross) covered the song on their 1970 album, New Ways But Love Stays.
* Chairmen of the Board covered the song and is on one of their first LPs.
* Toxic Audio covered the song on their album Captive Audience.
* Diana Ross covered the song on her 1970 album Everything Is Everything.
* The Punkles did a Punk cover version on their fourth album "For Sale".
* Tom Jones released a live version of "Come Together" on his album Reload, albeit with a new, faster arrangement.
* The Brothers Johnson released a cover of the song on their 1976 album Look Out For #1, altering the bass-line in their mid-tempo funk rendition that also includes a harmonica/guitar solo.
* Hip hop group The Roots sampled this song on their 2006 Best of The Roots mixtape produced by J. Period. The chorus of the song is repeated clips of Lennon singing "one thing I can tell you is you've got to be free," and "come together, over me."
* The band Gotthard recorded "Come Together' on their 1994 album Dial Hard.
* Marilyn Manson performed a cover of "Come Together" at the release party for Portrait of an American Family.
* The jazz-funk band Defunkt covered "Come Together" on the 1992 album Downtown Does the Beatles Live at the Knitting Factory.
* The rock band Zero Nerve Response frequently covers this song live using "Drop D" guitar/bass tuning, giving the song a unique low rumble.
* Zakk Wylde's band Pride and Glory covered this song on their album "Pride & Glory".
* The John Butler Trio also covered the song while touring, never released.
* The Cool Calm Collective regularly play 'Come Together' in live performances.
* A segment of this song was used to close several commercials for Nortel Networks. One version of the commercial featured a businessman reciting the song, omitting the lines "He one holy roller" and "He shoot Coca-Cola."
* "Come Closer Together," an unauthorized mashup of Nine Inch Nails's "Closer" with "Come Together" is widely available on YouTube and other Internet sites.
* The Plague recorded the song in the late 1970s. It remained unreleased until their compilation album "The X Tapes" was released in 2005.
* Christos Dantis remixed and covered the song on his 1994 album 4.
* Joe Cocker covers the song on the 2007 soundtrack to the film Across the Universe.
* Barbara Feldon performed a version of the song while rolling around on a water-bed in an episode of The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine in 1971.
* Pop-Rock singer, Carly Smithson, performed "Come Together" on American Idol season 7 top 12 contestants as her selection for the first Beatles-themed week.
* Michael Hedges released his version on the 1987 album, Live on the Double Planet.
* Shalamar covered the song in a distinctly 90s R&B style on their 1990 album "Wake Up".
* Milwaukee alt-rock band The Gufs like to play the song towards the end of live performances.
* Boris Grebenshchikov & Joanna Stingray released their version and its video in the 90s.
* Bob Weir and Ratdog have also covered the song while touring.
* Mookie Morris from Canadian Idol Season 6 performed this song on "Beatles/Judges Choice" Night. He was eliminated the next night and after performing the song again, he smashed his favourite guitar on the stage.
* Jon McLaughlin covered the song on the New York City stop of his Salute to 2009 Tour.
* Kris Allen performed "Come Together" on American Idol season 8, top 4, as his selection for Rock Week.

A-side: "Something"
Released: 31 October 1969 (UK)
Format: 7"
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, 21 July 1969
Genre: Blues rock
Length: 4:18
Label: Apple Records
Writer(s): Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


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