The composition Come Together opens the last and, according to the band’s fans and critics, the best album of the collective called Abbey Road, which unfortunately broke up after its recording. Just like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band, the album is conceptual, that is, bound by a coherent musical idea.
The song Come Together is unusual not only for the Beatles, but even for its author, John Lennon, known for his extravagance. His nominal co-writer Paul McCartney, although he was, in the opinion of many, more musically talented, never reached John’s level of intricacy in terms of lyrics. From the simple Love Me Do, Lennon evolved to A Day In The Life, Across The Universe and, finally, to Come Together.
In Lennon’s work of The Beatles period one can find many songs with absolutely abstract content. Take at least I’m The Walrus and Hey Bulldog or the completely meaningless Sun King from the same Abbey Road. In many of John’s compositions one can find veiled references to drugs. After leaving the band, Lennon was on them really hard for a while.
Come Together became the anthem of the hippies. The latter, as we know, were inseparable from marijuana. The apparent translation of Come Together is wrong. It has a very different connotation.
At the time of the composition’s writing, Timothy Leary, an apologist of LSD and marijuana, lived in the United States. He fought hard for the legalization of the latter. At the same time, Leary ran for governor of California along with the future American president Ronald Reagan. The candidate’s campaign slogan was the call – Come together, join the party, which can be translated as “Come together, join the party”. However, Leary’s political career ended quickly – he ended up in prison for marijuana possession.
While free, Leary corresponded with Lennon and asked him to write a song, or rather an anthem for his election campaign. John didn’t succeed, but he did come up with the song Come Together, which Leary didn’t need due to his imprisonment. Lennon considered it one of his most successful songs.
What is it about? If we follow the lyrics, the most correct translation of the title is “Come Together”. There is no plot in Come Together, but it is full of hippie jargon and English idioms. Lennon was known to be very fond of wordplay. The song mentions John’s favorite image of a walrus, Yoko Ono and Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters. Why? Simply because the author felt like it. We can’t be sure that Lennon composed the lyrics without being under some psychotropic substances.
Still, we can identify the main character in the song. He’s an old hippie. He has hair down to his knees, instead of a Bible he holds in his hand a self-twist with marijuana. He’s completely independent of the conservative society that Lennon despised. The hippie is dressed as a hippie, but his hands are made for playing the guitar. The fact that he “hits” Coca-Cola is understood by most interpreters of the lyrics as an allusion to cocaine use.
To become free, to know himself and the world around him, the hippie proposes to join him, and immediately – right now and to unite around him – over me.
Although Lennon was not as influenced by Indian philosophy as George Harrison, his character adopts the lotus pose. What follows is a plea, “Give yourself to him and you’ll realize how deeply sick he is.” And again, “Unite immediately around me.”
He lives on the edge, yet he does not cross the line. Carries muddy water with him (a hint of Muddy Waters”) and looks at the world through a magic glass. At the end of the song, Lennon contradicts himself. You have to look cool to be seen, and his character tries to be inconspicuous. And yet, he urges people to follow him.
The main riff of the song is accompanied by a hissing sound. It is Lennon saying in a whisper “Shoot me” – Shoot me.
Although Lennon later called the lyrics of Come Together a meaningless set of words, fans found deep meaning in it. Firstly, in the lines “one plus one plus one plus one will be three” they saw the confirmation of their version of Paul McCartney’s death, which once again proved that his double was photographed on the cover of Abbey Road.
Some lines from the text were personified. Holy roller was George Harrison, walrus was Paul, Ono sideboard was John himself, and good-looking was Ringo. Again, according to the fans.
Come Together didn’t make the BBC’s shot-list, but not at all because of the rather transparent drug hints. The station’s editors felt that the mention of the Coca-Cola brand was an advertisement.
Although Come Together topped all possible charts immediately after its release as a single, the authoritative Rolling Stone magazine placed it only in ninth place among all The Beatles’ compositions, and in the list of 500 greatest songs it got lost, which is not surprising, since the publication favors American artists.
Nevertheless, the song was repeatedly released in the form of covers performed by the most famous musicians.