The Beatles' Come Together-- Does it mean anything?

It sure is fun to sing. Go on. Do it. You know you wanna.

*Here come ole flattop
He come groovin’ up slowly
He got ju-ju eyeballs. . .
He wear no shoeshine
He got toe-jam football. . .

He say one and one and one is three
Got to be good lookin’ 'cuz he’s so hard to see*

But is it all nonsense sentences strung together or does it actually mean something?

It reportedly is part of the “Paul is dead” hoax/practical joke which the Beatles supposedly worked into a number of their songs.
Of course Paul was never dead… and none of the Beatles ever admitted that they had engineered any sort of hoax or practical joke. The insisted it was just a lot of fans with a wild imaginiation.

“Come together over me” is supposed to mean the three remaining lads visit the grave of the real Paul McCartney – now being impersonated by Billy Shears --(from Sgt Pepper).

“One and one and one is three” means – only three of the original lads are left.

“He wear no shoeshine” indicates he was buried in some taditional fashion which dictated the corpse shoulsd not wear shoes. (Have no idea if any such tradition ever existed) However in the picture on the front of the Beatles - Abbey Road album, the four lads are crossing the street …
Paul is dressed in white … the eastern symbol for mourning the dead …and Paul is not wearing shoes. (Who the hell cares … the music was great)

“Ju Ju eyeballs” refers to shining eyes … because coins would be placed on the eyes of the dead as a symbol of good luck in some English families.

It really was a lot of fun back in the '70’s, because everyone was always trying to find clues in Beatle songs for the Paul is dead hoax.
It also sold a lot of Beatle albums which were already considered old by most standards … because people wanted to listen closely to songs, play records backwards on their record players (remember record players?) and listen for “clues”…

“And here’s another clue for you all … the Walrus was Paul…” can’t remember which song that was from.

Oh well… That was then and this is now and it’s no joke … two of the boys really are gone. What a shame.


It means the guys had moved on from pot to LSD.

Couple of Things:

John, not Paul, was in white on the cover of Abbey Road.

The line about the Walrus being Paul is from Glass Onion off the White Album.

I am pretty sure John is on record as saying that Come Together is about nothing.

The lyrics you pointed out can be interpreted as being about the Paul is dead thing, but there are lots of other lyrics that don’t fit.

Why does John say “Shoot Me” in the beginning? Didn’t Paul “die” in a car crash?

Wasn’t the flattop line “borrowed” from Chuck Berry?

There are lines about Coca-Cola and Yoko as well. I think the link to Paul is Dead is a bit weak.

I am not saying that a line or two wasn’t a jab at the hoax, but I don’t think the whole song.

Yes, from Berry’s song You Can’t Catch Me.

The actual line was “Here come a flat-top, he was movin’ up with me.”

Come Together was originally written as a campaign song for Timothy Leary’s kiboshed bid to run against Ronald Reagan for governor of California in an earlier iteration of the traditional electoral circus.

The title is taken from Leary’s campaign posters-- “Come Together – Join the Party.” I’m guessing the rest of the lyrics were extensively overhauled after Leary’s arrest for possession ended his campaign. In his autobiography, Leary came off as being uncharacteristically sour about John using the song for something as quotidian as an album. Misguided feelings of entitlement, or something.

Funny little story I always think about when I hear this song now…

I had a friend who was convinced Come Together was about Bob Marley because the line “he shoot coca-cola.”

He thought Marley was an extreme drug addict who “would shoot up anything”, including ketchup. He also though they literally meant Coca-Cola, not cocaine.

I’m sure this has been discussed before, but Come Together is nonsensical on purpose. Lennon was reportedly sick of critics reading too much into his music. See ‘Glass Onion.’

Might’ve gotten away with it if he hadn’t copped the verse melody too…

As for “Come Together,” it’s nonsense, like “I Am the Walrus,” “Happiness Is A Warm Gun,” “Across the Universe,” and most of everything else Lennon wrote around this time.

I actually tihnk I Am The Walrus has some sort of internal logic that makes perfect sense and gives it meaning.

I have no idea what this logic is, but I’m convinced it’s there.

I’ve always thought that it was about Charles Manson (the lyrics always reminded me of a cult leader, which Manson would have been the most famous of in 1969).

Nothing in the song could possibly refer to the “Paul is dead” urban legend (not a hoax), since the whole shebang began after Abbey Road was released.

Lennon was a genius for stringing nonsense together. If you get a chance, find In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works, two truly great collections of nonsense stories by Lennon. Most Beatles fans seem to have forgotten them, or have never read them, but Lennon had a real talent for the bizarre.

Here are links to two of my favorites: A Suprise for Little Bobby and Good Dog, Nigel.

John could be a real sick puppy at times. :slight_smile:

Nah, the “Paul is Dead” thing started up in August of 1969 (not the 70s, as Angler says). Abbey Road was released in September of that year.


You people are confusing me!
Do the words mean something or not? Board rules forbid me to post the complete lyrics, but I’ve got my CD of The Ones and still I have no idea if
He shoot Coca-Cola
He got monkey finger

actually means anything.
I’m leaning towards nonsense. Come on guys. I need the Straight Dope!

It was 1st written for Tim Leary 's campaign for CA Gov.Based on Leary’s chant “Come Together & join the party.” Leary went to jail for drugs, so then lyrics changed. The settlement w/Berry was that Lennon would record 2 Berry songs. So w/ Chuck’s successful suit against Beach Boys for lifting “Surfin USA” he was the only guy I know of to win suits against BB & Beatles.

The obvious thing to point out would be that “Come Together” was recorded in July 1969.

You’re leaning the right way.

The Leary stuff was the origin, then it became something John wanted for The Beatles. John enjoyed throwing words together as they came to him, to see if anyone else could find meaning in his thoughts. He did similar (though less surreal) things years before with his two short books In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works. He also used nonsense words to keep rhythm when introducing a song before completing the lyrics. While most songwriters threw those words out, he often decided to keep them.

A bit of irony about the “coca-cola” line. The original thought was about shooting cocaine, but they knew that would not fly with the censors. They changed it to “coca-cola,” knowing the fans would get the reference and it would be kinda cool. Then the BBC banned the song because, according to their broadcast standards, “Coca-Cola” was an unacceptable commercial product promotion.

It is nonsense…a rather inspired brand of nonsense IMHO.

It’s like a lot of great songs, and a lot of Lennon songs in particular. It’s a combination of melody and chords, words and tone, that creates a mood. When I hear “Come Together,” it invariably invokes a feeling, and it’s not always the same one. I think that was what he was trying to do. IOW, it’s not nonsense so much as it’s abstract, like certain paintings that can be profoundly affecting even if you can’t describe exactly what they depict.

I’m not explaining this well…Lennon’s work always has a logic to me–maybe “meaning” is a better word–even when I can’t explain it other than to say it combines to speak to us all and make us feel something we hadn’t felt before we heard it.

I’m going to listen to Abbey Road today…

Yep. IIRC, Lennon liked McCartney’s “nonsense” lyric, “The movement you need is on your shoulder,” in “Hey Jude,” and urged him to leave it in.

That’s why Ray Davies had to change “Coca-cola” to “cherry cola” in the single version of the Kinks’ “Lola.”