Classic Rock

COME TOGETHER

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Very much John Lennon’s song, Abbey Road’s opener started out as Let’s Get It Together, a campaign song for Timothy Leary, standing against Ronald Reagan for Governor of California. Lennon kick-started his lyric with a phrase from Chuck Berry’s You

Can’t Catch Me (‘Here come old flat-top’), but neglected to cut the line from the finished recording. Berry’s publishers initiated plagiarism proceeding­s but settled out of court in 1973 on condition Lennon record three of their songs (hence his 1975 album Rock ’N’ Roll).

With a thinly veiled Lennon as central protagonis­t, Come Together is a groove-based espousal of the counter-culture, rich in selfconfes­sed ‘gobbledygo­ok’, which references Yoko Ono (then recovering from a car accident, in a hospital bed actually in Abbey Road Studios) and features the zeitgeist-defining line

‘you got to be free’.

Recorded across nine days in July, all four Beatles featured, with Lennon on doubletrac­ked guitar solo, McCartney on bass and piano, and Ringo shuffling beautifull­y on juju drums. Outwardly good-natured, there was tension in the air; “Shoot me” Lennon whispered over the opening bars. McCartney told journalist Ray Coleman: “On Come Together I’d have liked to have sung harmony with John, and I think he’d have liked me to, but I was too embarrasse­d to ask him.”

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