♫ Come Together ♫

I was in the shower yesterday evening when this song popped into my head.  What is it about the shower?  I dunno, but that’s where I get most of my inspiration for my music posts!  Perhaps the water droplets beating down on my poor empty head, or perhaps because that’s the only place I can sing without the cats howling and the girls running out of the house screaming?  Anyway, I only knew two lines of the lyrics, so my vocalization in the shower amounted to a lot of dum-dum-dum-dee-dum-da-la-dum.

I must confess complete ignorance about the origins of this song … never in a million years would I have guessed that John Lennon wrote this as a campaign song for … of all people … Timothy Leary!  Yes, Timothy Leary of 1960s LSD fame once decided to run for Governor of California, and asked John Lennon to write a song for him … this is that song!

After Timothy Leary decided against using this song for his political campaign Lennon added some nonsense lyrics and brought it to the Abbey Road sessions.  In a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine, John Lennon said:

“The thing was created in the studio. It’s gobbledygook. ‘Come Together’ was an expression that Tim Leary had come up with for (perhaps for the governorship of California against Reagan), and he asked me to write a campaign song. I tried and I 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?”

According to SongFacts …

John Lennon was sued for stealing the guitar riff and the line “Here comes old flat-top” from Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.” The lawsuit did not come from Berry, but from Morris Levy, one of the music industry’s most infamous characters (see our interview with Tommy James for more on Levy). He owned the song along with thousands of other early rock songs that he obtained from many poor, black, and unrepresented artists. Levy sued the Beatles, or more accurately, John Lennon, over the song around the time the Beatles broke up.

For years, Lennon delayed the trial while he and the Beatles tried to sort out all the legal and business problems that plagued Apple Records. Finally, in an attempt to avoid the court room as much as he could (Lennon felt like he was appearing in court more often than not), he settled with Levy. Lennon agreed to record his Rock N Roll album, which was just a series of cover songs, including three songs Levy owned (including “You Can’t Catch Me”) on the tracklist.

The deal made sense: Lennon always wanted to make a covers album, and Levy wanted the value of his songs to increase (when a Beatle re-records a song, that is just what happens). To make a long long long story short, Lennon recorded the album over the Lost Weekend, a year-or-two period when he was separated from Yoko Ono and lived in Los Angeles. During that time he was often drunk or high, and was rather sloppy and useless. Levy was getting frustrated with the lack of progress. Phil Spector was the producer, but in a fit of madness (which was not too unusual for Spector) he ran away and stole the recording session tapes. Levy invited Lennon to his upstate New York recording studio, and that is where he finally recorded the album, which ended up with only two Levy songs: “You Can’t Catch Me” and “Ya Ya.” 

The Beatles recorded this on July 21, 1969 and it was the first session John Lennon actively participated in following his and Yoko’s car accident 3 weeks earlier. John was so insistent on Yoko being in the studio with him that he had a hospital bed set up in the studio for her right after the accident, since she was more seriously injured than he was.

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) banned this because of the reference to Coca Cola, which they considered advertising.  That might ‘splain why it didn’t chart in the UK … or much of anywhere outside the U.S.  When rumors were spreading that Paul McCartney was dead, some fans thought the line “One and one and one is three” meant that only George, John and Ringo were left. The line “Got to be good lookin’ cuz he’s so hard to see” was supposed to be Paul’s spirit.  🙄  Sheesh … some people will buy into anything!

Come Together
The Beatles

Here come old flat top
He come grooving up slowly
He got joo joo eyeball
He one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

He wear no shoe shine
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 bag production
He got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard
He one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
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

Oh

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Oh

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Lennon John Winston / Mccartney Paul James
Come Together lyrics © Sony/atv Tunes Llc

34 thoughts on “♫ Come Together ♫

  1. I’ve always loved this song, the opening track on an amazing album. The reason it didn’t chart in the UK is more prosaic than you thought: it was released here as the B-side to ‘Something,’ which got to #4 – the Beatles’ worst performing single since early 1963. Unlike the States, our charts didn’t separate the two sides of a single – whichever side you asked for all purchases counted towards the A-side’s chart position.

    Liked by 3 people

      • I’m surprised that you’re surprised – it’s The Beatles!

        It’s always been the way we do it – to us it was odd that you did it your way. I guess in these days of digital downloads and streaming A- and B-sides are now part of history.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Heh heh … oh yes, how could I forget? It just didn’t seem like your style, but … it’s the Beatles!

          I don’t know … they do still sell records, don’t they? I suppose A vs B sides don’t matter as much, but surely they still exist? Or do they still sell records? I’m out of touch!!!

          Liked by 1 person

          • It’s very much my style – for me, they could do no wrong.

            I know vinyl albums have been making a comeback, at silly prices for those who think they’re trendy. I’m not sure about singles, though. I guess they still exist but there are very few retailers left these days. I think the last time I bought a single was probably around 1973!

            Liked by 1 person

            • There was something about the smell of the vinyl albums back in the day, but admittedly CDs and online music is the better way to go. My daughter still has a collection of vinyl albums and a turntable, but I don’t think she uses it. Heck, they might be collector’s items worth a pretty penny by now! 1973 … I wasn’t buying music at all, for I had just had my second child in as many years and had no time to listen to anything but the sounds of children crying for their supper or bottle! Wow … do you realize that’s nearly 50 years ago? Where have the years gone?

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill, I love the bass in this song. Mr. Levy is in a long list of people who exploited African-American performers. I remember George Harrison lost a court plagiarism case for “My Sweet Lord” by the owners of the rights to “He’s so Fine.” They sound a little alike, but are different sound.

    One of my favorite parts of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is when you can listen to the influences of the HOF members. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

  3. oh my…. I didn’t expect that! Well, that’s now water under the bridge, isn’t it? I LOVE the idea that you’re singing in the shower…. I used to sing all the time, everywhere. Life brought that to a standstill and I often wondered if I could re-start once more. But then I don’t think of it and thus gather that, No, it won’t happen again…. Sad really. But I’m a singer in choirs anyway, so I do (or used to get) my fill. After 2 years we plan to have a full choral week again in October. 3 concerts at the end – much to look forward to!

    Liked by 3 people

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