Beatles: Come Together Meaning
Song Released: 1969
Covered By: Taylor John Williams (2014), Gary Clark Jr. (2017)
Come Together Lyrics
anonymous Jul 18th, 2009 7:08pm report
"He got monkey finger, he shoot coca-cola"
Obviously he's talking about an opposable thumb, which monkeys as well as humans have...and as to the 'he shoot coca-cola' he's referring to shooting cocaine.
It pieces together cause you need a thumb to push down on the plunger of a syringe (while shooting drugs)
This song is the last of Lennon's compositions (at least as a Beatle) that may be characterized as "lyrical impressionism," the most glaring / salient example of which is "I Am the Walrus."
From WikiPedia: the "musical impressionism (of the 19th century) focused on suggestion and atmosphere rather than strong emotion or the depiction of a story."
It’s not clear that Lennon consciously set out to create a new "artistic movement" in popular/rock music – in other words, that one day he said to himself, “I think I’ll write some songs that superficially appear to be nonsensical and meaningless – which, in fact, (may) HAVE NO concrete meaning - but which, nonetheless, strongly suggest some kind of meaning … conveying an interpretation and / or feeling subliminally.”
But, as if to acknowledge that he was “up to something,” "Come Together," refers back to “Walrus” (via the phrase, "he has walrus gumboot") – and "I Am the Walrus" itself refers to a previous example: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." (“Hey Bulldog” seems to be the first of his songs that fit this description.)
Precisely why Lennon wrote such songs is open to speculation. Probably he wrote them because he could (and not many good songwriters can), but Lennon also seemed to enjoy being a bit inscrutable at times, as if his ability to mystify the masses were evidence of his intellectual superiority (which perhaps it was).
On the surface, at least, the song asks for everyone to “come together” (in love & peace), and evidently, Timothy Leary had asked Lennon to write a song along these lines. Considering that the most obvious interpretation of “I Am the Walrus” is that it’s a lament for the fact that “we are (CLEARLY NOT) all together,” this also makes some sense.
However, Lennon’s moaning at the end of the song, along with the theme of the “Abbey Road” album itself (i.e., a romantic life experience), along with slang meaning of “come,” suggest a simple, salacious interpretation (which Lennon likely would have regarded as his own, largely private joke) ... and that - apart from the little aphorism, “one thing I can tell you is you got to be free” - the rest is pretty much poetic gibberish.
Sheryl Crow has written song lyrics that also may be described as impressionistic - "If It Makes You Happy" is one example. In that song, it’s worth noting the similarity between her ironic “and drank till I was thirsty again,” and the “surrealistic logic” of Lennon’s “got to be good-looking 'cause he's so hard to see.”
anonymous Jun 6th, 2009 6:15pm report
Yeah, I feel as though most of you are correct in your belief that the four verses represent the four band members. But, I believe that each paragraph is not dedicated to a specific band member. That would be too simple, and the song is far from simple. The song is a mess of jumbled phrases, but those phrases are about people. Those jumbled phrases are describing all of the Beatles coming together.
I agree with those who think it's about each of the 4 Beatles, but one must remember that Paul was called the "Cute" Beatles, and he and John we not really getting along at the time this was written. Is it safe to say that Verse 4 is about Paul? "Got to be good lookin' cuz he's so hard to see?" A possible dig at Paul? Just a thought.
Look at the album cover:
Feet below his knees: Paul, who is barefoot.
He wear no shoe shine: Lennon, who has sneakers.
Also, "One and one and one is three. Got to be good looking cuz he's so hard to see": Ringo, who keeps the beat, and is hidden behind drums.
They are coming together over their last recorded album.
anonymous Apr 24th, 2009 4:32pm report
"Sideboards" is (in England) synonymous with Sideburns! Its nothing to do with arms on sofas!!
The line is "He got Oh no sideboards" and is just a comment on his (whoever he is) appearance like the lines about length of hair, etc. Sideboards/sideburns were of course cool in this era and not having them would have been un-cool.
Motown_Carwasher Mar 23rd, 2009 3:38pm report
I like the idea of the 4 beatles each being one verse, it just doesn't seem right to me. I've always thought it was a person in the four stages of addiction, describing each step. Perhaps describing the four stages Brian Epstein went through.
Here come old flat top...He got JooJoo eyeballs (Brian when he first met the Beatle's including his eyeglasses ( Jew Jew eyeballs), then he has to "do what he please" experimenting with drugs.
He wear no shoe-shine, he got monkey-finger (reference to Heroin, the monkey) I know you, you know me, is him talking to the drug.
He bag production... a reference to Brain Epstein's falling off in working with the Beatles, who blamed him for not securing the rights to Northern Songs. The rest of the verse is a drug trip. Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease, is an attempt to kick the drugs and go straight, when you go into DTs
The third verse, roller coaster, early warnings, muddy waters, is the person dying of drug overdose. Got to be good looking cause he's so hard to see. They fix you up for the funeral, and then you're in the ground so you're "So hard To See" and then the chorus, Come Together Right now, over me, is the people standing at his graveside, Over him so to speak.
This might not be directly related to Brian Epstein, but its definitely influenced by him. I can see all the stages of addiction including death, when you're "So Hard To See"
splitzmw89 Mar 21st, 2009 3:34pm report
ok i didnt read all the way down but the few i did read you guys need to listin to this song about 1000 more time's, when john say's he's got muddy water he shoots coke a cola that means dope at the time come together came out i know that john was useing herion not sure about paul and i think george was to.. the hole song does have lyrics about the guy's but it's just mostly about getting high
I have studied this song at great lengths and I think that many theories listed here (concerning the song being about band members) are correct but the confusion lies in trying to apportion one verse to one band member.
I believe we need to view the song as a need by John to settle differences and reunite the band. He (at the time) was seen to be causing difficulties within the band by involving Yoko and his growing benevolent behavior. With Paul expressing his intent to leave and friction growing towards John by both the other band members and the press/public, this was John's attempt to clear the air and lay the cards on the table.
Each verse contains John's view of ALL band members and follows a pattern, the exception being Ringo who seems to be the target of that old joke, "The drummer never has anything interesting to say!" The first line being about John's first meeting with the member. The second line concerning a memorable theme of the band member. The third line is about John's feelings towards the other members at the height hostilities. The forth line portrays the current thoughts John has about the other members. And the last line of every verse is either criticism defense or criticism of John by the band.
The first line of every verse is about Paul, the first to join John's band. ("The Quarrymen" at the time)
1 - Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly
2 - He wear no shoeshine he got toe-jam football
3 - He bad (not bag) production he got walrus gumboot
4 - He roller-coaster he got early warning
1 - Paul met John at a gig and was trying to act cool and older than his age and impress with his guitar playing skills (He was only 15 at the time)
2 - In reference to the shoeless Abbey Rd. picture.
3 - Paul would stop recording (production) to argue and fight with John and was unhappy with the his behavior whilst recording "I Am The Walrus"
4 - "Roller-coaster" referring to Paul's moods (up and down) and his "warning" about leaving the band.
The second line of every verse is about George. The second to join after being introduced to John by Paul.
1 - He got joo-joo eyeball he one holy roller
2 - He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola
3 - He got ono sideboard he one spinal cracker
4 - He got muddy water he one mojo filter
1 - "Joo-joo eyeball" is in relation to George idolizing John before he was excepted into the band and attending every performance and "eyeballing" John at every gig. The "holy roller" refers to George's amazing grasp of both American blues/gospel and rock and roll bass lines at only 14!
2 - This line refers to George's drug use.
3 - "Ono" obviously refers to Yoko. George was known to sideline (sideboard) Yoko during Paul's outbursts to John about her involvement with the band and John is calling him spineless for doing so (Spinal cracker).
4 - This line is about George switching off and distancing himself from the troubles within the band, filtering the bad "mojo" but acting despondent feeling the blues (Muddy Waters reference)
The third line of every verse is about Ringo. The last member to join the band after replacing Pete Best.
1 - He got hair down to his knee
2 - He say "I know you, you know me"
3 - He got feet down below his knee
4 - He say "one and one and one is three"
1 - Ringo had long hair at a time when the others had gone for the famous bowl cut and when sitting at the drums, his hair would hang down to (well, not quite) his knees.
2- This line is in reference to the hard time he had after joining the band. Pete Best had a huge following that protested Ringo replacing him. As it was, Ringo had played at many gigs with the Beatles when Best was unable or unwilling to play!
3 - This is a joke about not being able to see Ringo below the waist when sitting behind the drum kit.
4 - This line is about both a reference to rhythm and Ringo's feelings that he was left out and isolated from the other three members decisions regarding the band.
The forth line of every verse is related to John himself, containing both criticisms of him by the others and a rebuttal.
1 - Got to be a joker he just do what he please
2 - One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
3 - Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease
4 - Got to be good-looking 'cause he's so hard to see
1,2 & 4 - These lines are criticisms of John made by the other band members. They relate to his difficult behavior, dragging the others down and general hostility towards him.
2 - This line is both very interesting and crucial to the interpretation of the whole song! It is the only line in which "I" is used. This is John speaking directly to the band (and us, the listener). It is a rebuttal and an excuse for his behavior. It is his only explanation to the feelings the others have towards him. He is feeling stifled by the band and is possibly ready to leave.
The chorus -
Come together, right now. Over me.
It seems clear at first, "come together, right now". It demands an end the the current hostility, immediately. We know John was commissioned to write a song for Timothy Leary and his campaign but John got no further than the title when Leary was arrested and I believe that the words "come together" stuck a resonance with John at that time. The last part, "Over me" offers two outcomes to the bands current situation. The first having holding the meaning "get over me", put the past behind and we can continue happily together. The second meaning can be interpreted as "I'm over", announcing John's intent to leave the band and go his own way.
Thankyou for reading and I hope my views on this song and the man who wrote it may ring true to you.
yourhulkleberry22 Dec 22nd, 2008 12:49pm report
I believe that a lot of what John wrote in his songs contained hidden messages, as he enjoyed toying with words and word games. He also enjoyed knowing something others didn't, as proven in many of his other works (I am The Walrus to confuse his old English teacher, etc...). I also agree with the theory that each verse represented each of the four Beatles. Parts that I find are easily applied to each individual Beatle are as follows:
John- He Bag Production (Bagism for peace), He got Walrus Gumboot (I am the Walrus), He got ono sideboard (Yoko), and hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease(John always felt that he was misunderstood and either crazy or a genius, he also was constantly crying for help, as both his parents left him as a baby to be raised by his aunt Mimi. Then when he was a teenager, just when his mother, Julia reentered his life, she was run over by a car. That has to screw you up a little? He then wrote so many songs trying to express his pain, like Help, No where man, etc...)
George- He got joo joo eyeball(hare krishna's all seeing eye?), He one holy roller (his eastern religiosity), He got hair down to his knee ( George's hair was the longest at this time).
Paul- He roller coaster(Helter skelter was about a carnival ride), He got early warning(perhaps John let Paul know that after recording Abbey Road LP he was leaving the Beatles, in fact on Anthology part three, disk 2, you can hear George explain just before "I, Me, Mine" starts that "You all will have read that Dave Dee is no longer with us, but Mickey and Tisch and I just like to carry on the good work that's always gone down in number two(Abbey Road studio#2, where many a Beatle's album including SGT Pepper was recorded) Then just Paul, George and Ringo play on the song.), this could also explain the one and one and one is three(just three Beatles left), Got to be good looking (Paul was the cute Beatle), cause he's so hard to see (probably a jab at McCartney as he had been buying up Apple stock behind the other three Beatles backs, implying that he had something to hide or was untrustworthy (lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime?).
Ringo- the hardest to interpret, but He got toe jam football (Ringo was a huge English football fan, and he and Paul still root for the Liverpool Team).
The rest about shooting coca cola(injecting Cocaine or drinking shots of bourbon and coke(Ringo's favorite drink) are interesting thoughts. He got Monkey finger (in the 60's monkey finger was the middle finger or the bird).
Based on the above interpretations verse one would imply George, two for Ringo, three for John and four would be Paul. It is interesting that the most obvious one is John(the writer of the song). One has to wonder if this is intentional or subconscious? Also interesting is the more negative tone of verse four, almost calling that person the odd man out(as Paul was alone in that he wanted Linda Eastman's father, Lee Eastman, as the Beatles manager, while the other three Beatles wanted Stones Manager Allen Klein to manage them). Lennon's ability with the written word is as amazing as Shakespeare, Poe, and Lewis Carrol, and I find it hard to believe that the song was just gobbleygook as Lennon said in Playboy interview 1980. Anyone with other thoughts, or ideas that may aid further analysis please post. Thanks, Huck
anonymous Nov 24th, 2008 11:04pm report
I recall hearing on the radio many, many years ago the answer to the meaning of this cryptic song. John Lennon would occasionally come up with a line or phrase he liked, but did not fit into whichever song he was working on at the time and would jot them down into a notebook. He simply made all these stray lines "Come Together" into one song. Too easy!!
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