The backing track was recorded in eight takes in Studio Three, in a session lasting from 2.30-9.30pm. Unusually for 1969, four-track tape was used.
Three of the takes – four, five, and seven – were incomplete, and take six was selected as the basis of the album version.
Take one, with slightly different lyrics and a raw vocal from Lennon, can be heard on the Anthology 3 album, and take five can be heard on some formats of the 50th anniversary reissue of Abbey Road.
The initial takes had Paul McCartney’s bass guitar on track one; George Harrison’s guitar on track two; Ringo Starr’s drums on track three; and Lennon’s guide vocals, handclaps and tambourine on track four.
‘Come Together’ changed at a session. We said, ‘Let’s slow it down. Let’s do this to it, let’s do that to it,’ and it ends up however it comes out. I just said, ‘Look, I’ve got no arrangement for you, but you know how I want it.’ I think that’s partly because we’ve played together a long time. So I said, ‘Give me something funky,’ and set up a beat, maybe, and they all just join in.
Lennon’s voice was suffering for him not having sung anything significant since ‘Give Peace A Chance’ was recorded on 1 June 1969. At one stage in the session his vocals appeared to give out altogether, despite some spirited performances.
The lyrics also changed during the session. On take one he mentioned the singer Eartha Kitt, and on takes two, six, and eight he namechecked Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Several times he also sang “Got to get injections ’cause he’s so hard to see” in the final verse.
Take six was chosen as the best of the attempts. From 9.30-10pm it was copied over to eight-track tape in the control room of Studio Two, and was renamed take nine.
Also on this day...
- 2009: Paul McCartney live: Citi Field, New York
- 1987: Recording: Choba B CCCP by Paul McCartney
- 1963: Live: Queen’s Theatre, Blackpool
- 1962: Live: Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, Wallasey
- 1961: Live: Aintree Institute, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.