“Come Together” is a song by the Beatles written by John Lennon but 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 21st single in the United Kingdom and 26th in the United States. The song reached the top of the charts in the US and peaked at number four in the UK.
Origin and meaning
The song’s history began when Lennon was inspired by Timothy Leary’s campaign for governor of California against Ronald Reagan, which promptly ended when Leary was sent to prison for possession of marijuana:
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?
It has been speculated[by whom?] that each verse refers cryptically to one of the Beatles.[unreliable source?][unreliable source?] It has also been suggested that the song has only a single “pariah-like protagonist” and Lennon was “painting another sardonic self-portrait”.
Lennon played rhythm guitar and sang the vocal, McCartney played bass, Harrison played lead guitar, and Starr played drums. It was produced by George Martin and recorded at the end of July 1969 at Abbey Road Studios. In the intro, Lennon says: “shoot me”, which is accompanied by his handclaps and McCartney’s heavy 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 in the Evening Standard, McCartney said he was disappointed about not singing live with Lennon; instead, he overdubbed his vocals later:
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.