Song facts: Something, Come Together

 Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennin recording Abbey Road, 1969.

Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennin recording Abbey Road, 1969.

Something

Something was the first George Harrison song to appear as the A-side on a Beatles' single. By 1969, Lennon/McCartney were very impressed with how George had matured as a songwriter. In fact, Lennon described Something as the best song on Abbey Road and McCartney said it's the best song George ever wrote.

"I thought it was George's greatest track - with Here Comes The Sun and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. They were possibly his best three. Until then he had only done one or two songs per album. I don't think he thought of himself very much as a songwriter, and John and I obviously would dominate - again, not really meaning to, but we were 'Lennon and McCartney'. So when an album comes up, Lennon and McCartney go and write some stuff - and maybe it wasn't easy for him to get into that wedge. But he finally came up with Something and a couple of other songs that were great, and I think everyone was very pleased for him. There was no jealousy. In fact, I think Frank Sinatra used to introduce Something as his favourite Lennon/McCartney song. Thanks Frank." - Paul McCartney
"I had written Something on the piano during the recording of the White Album. There was a period during that album when we were all in different studios doing different things trying to get it finished, and I used to take some time out. So I went into an empty studio and wrote Something." - George Harrison

Harrison began work on Something in 1968 while the Beatles were still recording The White AlbumGeorge worked out the melody on piano but didn't revisit it till later on when The Beatles recorded the song at Abbey Road on April 16th, 1969. Not happy with the April session The Beatles re-recorded the song with keyboardist Billy Preston on May 2nd 1969. They recorded 36 takes on this day, using the last one for the master that appears on Abbey Road. 

"Paul started playing a bass line that was a little elaborate, and George told him, 'No, I want it simple.' Paul complied. There wasn't any disagreement about it, but I did think that such a thing would never happened in years past. George telling Paul how to play the bass? Unthinkable! But this was George's baby, and everybody knew it was an instant classic." - Geoff Emerick
"George had a smugness on his face when he came in with this one, and rightly so - he knew it was absolutely brilliant. And for the first time, John and Paul knew that George had risen to their level." - Geoff Emerick

Harrison got the opening lyrics from the title of James Taylor's song Something in the Way She Moves.

"I could never think of words for it. And also because there was a James Taylor song called Something In The Way She Moves which is the first line of that. And so then I thought of trying to change the words, but they were the words that came when I first wrote it, so in the end I just left it as that, and just called it Something." - George Harrison

According to Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd, the song was written for her.

 Pattie Boyd, circa 1965. 

Pattie Boyd, circa 1965. 

"He told me, in a matter-of-fact way, that he had written it for me. I thought it was beautiful ..." - Pattie Boyd
"George's Something was out of left field. It was about Pattie, and it appealed to me because it has a very beautiful melody and is a really structured song." - Paul McCartney
"I had written ‘Something’ on the piano during the recording of the White Album. There was a period during that album when we were all in different studios doing different things trying to get it finished, and I used to take some time out. So I went into an empty studio and wrote ‘Something’." - George Harrison  
 Something/Come Together Japanese single sleeve. 

Something/Come Together Japanese single sleeve. 

 Something/Come Together Japanese single sleeve. 

Something/Come Together Japanese single sleeve. 

 Something/Come Together Japanese single sleeve. 

Something/Come Together Japanese single sleeve. 

Personnel

The Beatles

  • George Harrison – lead vocal, lead guitar, rhythm guitar
  • Paul McCartney – bass guitar, backing vocal
  • John Lennon – piano
  • Ringo Starr – drums

Additional personnel

  • Billy Preston – Hammond organ
  • George Martin – string arrangement
 Something/Come Together Japanese single sleeve. 

Something/Come Together Japanese single sleeve. 

 Something/Come Together single sleeve. 

Something/Come Together single sleeve. 

 Something/Come Together single sleeve. 

Something/Come Together single sleeve. 

 Pattie Boyd circa 1965. 

Pattie Boyd circa 1965. 

 George Harrison and Pattie Boyd, 1969.

George Harrison and Pattie Boyd, 1969.

Come Together  

The Beatles started recording Come Together on July 21st 1969 at Abbey Road Studios, London. The song was written by John Lennon and is the opening track on Abbey Road. It took several days of sessions until it was completed on July 30th.

George Martin produced the track with Lennon on rhythm guitar and vocals, McCartney on bass, Harrison on lead guitar and Ringo on drums. Although Paul provided backing vocals, he didn't sing them live with John; John overdubbed Paul's vocals onto the track at a later stage; something McCartney later regretted.

"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." - Paul McCartney

Lennon was inspired to write Come Together after Timothy Leary asked him for a song for his presidential campaign.

"It was a funky record - it's one of my favorite Beatle tracks, or, one of my favourite Lennon tracks, let's say that. It's funky, it's bluesy, and I'm singing it pretty well. I like the sound of the record. You can dance to it. I'd buy it!" - John Lennon  
"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?" - John Lennon

 In 1973 Big Seven Music Corp brought a lawsuit against Lennon. They owned the rights to Chuck Berry's You Can't Catch Me and contended that Come Together sounded too similar to Berry's song.

Come Together contains the lines Here come 'ol flattop, he come groovin' up slowly - Berry's song has the lines Here come a flattop, he was movin' up with me. Lennon settled out of court and agreed to cover three songs by Seven Corp Music.

"He originally brought it over as a very perky little song, and I pointed out to him that it was very similar to Chuck Berry's You Can't Catch Me. John acknowledged it was rather close to it so I said, 'Well, anything you can do to get away from that.' I suggested that we tried it swampy - 'swampy' was the word I used - so we did, we took it right down. I laid that bass line down which very much makes the mood. It's actually a bass line that people now use very often in rap records. If it's not a sample, they use that riff. But that was my contribution to that." - Paul McCartney

PERSONNEL

  • John Lennon – lead and backing vocals, handclaps, rhythm guitar, electric piano
  • Paul McCartney – backing vocal, bass guitar
  • George Harrison – lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums, maracas

Release

On October 6th 1969, The Beatles released Something and Come Together, a double A-sided single from their recently released Abbey Road album. It was issued later that month in the UK on October 31st. The single topped the American charts on November 29th 1969; the group's 18th US number one. Amazingly, it only peaked at number four in the UK.

"They blessed me with a couple of B-sides in the past, but this is the first time I've had an A-side. Big deal, eh?" - George Harrison
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