We are never tired of the intricacies and nuances that can be found in the work of The Beatles. The band were so prolific and poignant with their work that even some 50 years later we’re still obsessed with how they created their iconic songs. It’s easy to get trapped on the rich tapestry of the Fab Four and thanks to their meticulous fans, we can paw through gems like this.
One particular song that caught our eye is the 1969 release ‘Come Together’. A song which has seen a variety of different covers, including the likes of Michael Jackson, Ike & Tina Turner plus many, many more, emerges as a pop hit from its hypnotic and powerful sound. It’s a Beatles classic that rightly has been a mainstay in the list of reasons why the Fab Four are worthy of their genius tag.
Here, we’re taking a look back at the isolated vocals of the aforementioned track to marvel at the band’s huge talent and remind ourselves of the individual power The Beatles presented. While the song is a shining example of how they progressed as a group, the isolated vocals show a band whose harmonies were as tight as the day they started.
The track was written primarily by John Lennon but, like most of their material, is credited to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership thanks to the way they naturally grew songs in the studio. The song acts as the opening track on their 1969 album Abbey Road and was also released as a single coupled with ‘Something’. The track would reach the top of the charts in the United States and peak at number four in the United Kingdom. It’s known as one of the band’s best singles for a variety of reasons.
In fact, it was one of the few songs on Abbey Road that John Lennon actually liked, famously saying: “I liked the A-side. I never liked that sort of pop opera on the other side. I think it’s junk. It was just bits of song thrown together. And I can’t remember what some of it is.”
Still, it remains one of the Beatles’ fans ultimate Fab Four favourite songs and we’re given even more room to appreciate the track with this isolated vocal. Naturally, with it, the song’s focus changes to the vocal talents of John Lennon, who, despite disliking much of the album, adored this song.
Paul McCartney, on the other hand, was always upset he didn’t get his time to shine on the track, suggesting it was indicative of the band’s upcoming disbandment. “Even on Abbey Road we don’t do harmonies like we used to. I think it’s sad,” reflected Macca. “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.”
With the song written primarily by Lennon and for the campaign of the Californian Democratic candidate Timothy Leary. Perhaps he felt too attached to the material to allow another person to sing on it but Lennon’s vocals are supreme on this one. Considering the ‘Imagine’ singer turned what he once called “gobbledygook” into one of the band’s most intense and powerful tracks in their collection, maybe he was right.
It would be one of the only songs that Lennon would take to the stage as part of his solo shows, clearly holding some affection for the track. The message of the song was one of unity and as Lennon began his mission for peace, the track became a mainstay of his iconography.
It’s also a song that Lennon began to make his own after seeing some of McCartney’s work, something Music Radar’s Geoff Emerick suggests: “Initially, Paul played the electric piano part, but John kind of looked over his shoulder and studied what he was playing. When it came time to record it, John played the electric piano instead of Paul. Paul might have been miffed, but I think he was more upset about not singing on the choruses—John did his own backing vocals.”
It’s a marvellous vocal performance from Lennon and one, when given the right room to breathe, cements him as not only a fantastic songwriter but a fantastic singer too.
Listen below to John Lennon’s isolated vocal on The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’.