The song the Beatles “borrowed” that “Came Together” on the New Jersey Turnpike
Ever wonder where songwriters get their ideas? Many times it comes from songs they'd heard before or things they'd read.
Case in point. "Come Together" by the Beatles which is actually taken from Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me"
Here Berry performs the song after an intro by Alan Freed in the 1956 movie "Rock, Rock, Rock". Berry sings about his brand new airmobile which is so fast that you can't catch him. Berry goes on to tell the story of driving on the "New Jersey Turnpike in the wee wee hours, rolling slowly cause of drizlin showers"
He goes on to sing a line very familiar to Beatles fans "Here come a flat-top" which is very similar to the "Here come old flat top" opening of Come Together"
In the song, Berry "put his foot in the tank and began to roll, moaning siren that was state patrol" He goes in to sing "So I let out my wings then I blew my horn, it was bye-bye New Jersey, I've become airborne"
In the courts, Lennon who said he used the song as an inspiration for writing Come Together was eventually sued by Morris Levy a music producer who owned the rights to "You Can't Catch Me" The lawsuit claims all Lennon did was slow Berry's song. He also used some of his lyrics
Here's Lennon from a 1980 interview from the Beatles Bible
"Come Together is me, writing obscurely around an old Chuck Berry thing. I left the line in, ‘Here comes old flat-top’. It is nothing like the Chuck Berry song, but they took me to court because I admitted the influence once years ago. I could have changed it to ‘Here comes old iron face,’ but the song remains independent of Chuck Berry or anybody else on Earth" -John Lennon, 1980, All We Are Saying, David Sheff
They eventually settled out of court with Lennon who didn't want a court case agreeing to record three of Levy's songs on his next release. He actually recorded two songs which were "Angel Baby" and "You Can't Catch Me" before his relationship with producer Phil Spector had deteriorated.
Lennon had given Levy a rough tape which Levy then as Beatles Bible says "released as "Roots: John Lennon Sings The Great Rock & Roll Hits. This mail-order LP, which included You Can’t Catch Me and 14 other tracks, was quickly withdrawn when Lennon and Capitol Records threatened to sue."
When all was said and done, according to Beatles Bible
"The case against Lennon was eventually concluded in July 1976, when Levy’s Big Seven Music Corporation was awarded $6,795 for breach of an oral agreement. Lennon’s countersuit, regarding the unauthorized release of Roots, resulted in him, Capitol Records and EMI Records receiving $109,700 to compensate for lost income; Lennon was awarded an additional $35,000 in punitive damages".
As for Bruce quoting the song, On his 1985 he would end the live version of Growin Up quote Berry's line from You Can't Catch Me "It was bye bye New Jersey, we was airborne"
Here you can check out the songs
Chuck Berry- You Can't Catch Me from the 1956 movie "Rock Rock Rock"
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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