Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

Help support this site! Consider clicking an ad from time to time. Thanks!


Post navigation

Come Together

Inspired by “You Can’t Catch Me” by Chuck Berry (1956).
Hit version by The Beatles (US #1/UK #4 1969).

From the wiki: “In 1969, Lennon composed the song ‘Come Together’ for The Beatles’ album Abbey Road but its 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. Lennon recalled, ‘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?’

“‘Come Together’ was inspired by the Chuck Berry’s ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ which went uncredited on The Beatles recording. That opened the group, and Lennon, up to a future legal battle. ‘Come Together,’ it was alleged, bore too much of a melodic and lyrical resemblance to the Berry original (Lennon even took the third line of the Berry’s second verse – ‘Here come old flat-top, he was movin’ up with me’ – for the new lyric). Publisher Morris Levy brought a lawsuit for copyright infringement. The case was later settled out of court, with the agreement that, according to an announcement by Levy, Lennon had to ‘record three songs by Big Seven publishers’ on his next album including ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ and, at Phil Spector’s urging (and most notoriously, for Lennon), ‘Just Because‘.

“Nostalgia was a popular trend in the mid-1970s on film with American Graffiti, and on television (Happy Days). Lennon, rather than writing his own songs, and partly inspired by his legal arrangement to include at least three songs from Levy’s catalog, decided to record an album of oldies as his next release, following Mind Games. After fitful recording sessions in Los Angeles, with Phil Spector, Lennon would finish the album himself in New York and release it as Rock ‘N’ Rock in 1975.

“Rolling Stone ranked ‘Come Together’ at #202 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and #9 on their list of The Beatles’ 100 Greatest Songs.”

For more information about John Lennon’s Rock ‘N’ Roll album, see: ‘Just Because’.

The Beatles, “Come Together” (1969):

John Lennon, “You Can’t Catch Me” from Rock ‘N’ Rock (1974):

Post navigation

1 comment for “Come Together