Get Together

Album: Youngbloods (1967)
Charted: 5
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  • Lyrics
  • This clarion call for unity and understanding is one of the defining songs of the '60s, when it was part of the peace movement. Some of the lyrics are rather zen:

    We are but a moment's sunlight
    Fading in the grass


    But the chorus is very clear in its message:

    Come on people now
    Smile on your brother
    Everybody get together
    Try to love one another
    Right now
  • This song has a very convoluted origin story. It was written as "Let's Get Together" by Chester Powers, who recorded as Dino Valenti. He died in 1994 at age 57, stricken with a brain mass that required surgery. Raised by carnival performers who did a vaudeville-style act in the off-season, he was constantly on the move. A stint in the Air Force didn't take, so he tried his hand at music, making his way to Greenwich Village, New York, where the folk scene was taking shape. In the early '60s, he moved to Los Angeles; he claimed he wrote the song in the summer of 1963 at the estate of the actress Edie Sedgwick, where he was staying. In the florid version of his tale, he was thinking about the power of music, and how he could use it to convey a powerful message: Relax. Smile at each other.

    Valenti may have had more pragmatic aspirations, as he was working on songs he could sell or record to get his career going, and "Let's Get Together" fit the mood of the times.

    In 1964, The Kingston Trio became the first to record the song, including it on their album Back In Town (as "Let's Get Together"). Later that year, the actor Hamilton Camp, who was taking a turn as a folk singer, included it on his album Paths of Victory (as "Get Together").

    In 1965, the California group We Five were the first to release the song as a single, taking it to #31 in the US (as "Let's Get Together"). This same year, Powers was arrested three times: the first two busts for marijuana possession, the third for speed. In 1966, Jefferson Airplane included the song (as "Let's Get Together") on their debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The song became a fixture on the San Francisco music scene, with Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins sometimes performing it. This is around the time Powers began serving his one-to-ten-year sentence at Folsom Prison. He got out early in 1967 though a series of legal maneuvers that included a deal with Epic Records as a solo act - with his song making the rounds, the label was hot to have him on the roster. Signing him signified that he was worthy of parole, as he was less of a threat to society. This deal required a lawyer, which Powers paid for by selling the rights to "Get Together" to SFO Music.

    Jesse Colin Young, who had been performing the song as a solo artist, released it with his band The Youngbloods in 1967. This release had little impact, peaking at #62 in America in October, somehow missing the Summer Of Love. Powers released his debut solo album (as Dino Valente) in 1968, but didn't include "Get Together" on the track list because SFO would have earned the royalties.

    "Get Together" stayed in the zeitgeist, with covers by Linda Ronstadt, The Sunshine Company, and The Staple Singers in 1968, but it didn't break through as a hit until 1969, when The National Conference of Christians and Jews distributed it to radio and TV stations to support Brotherhood Week. At the time, broadcasters were required to run public service announcements for the public good. Non-profit organizations vied for this airtime with messages that were often preachy (Don't do drugs!) or unappealing (Have a rash? It could be a sign of something worse...). Brotherhood Week was a fun one, with this catchy tune in the background. These PSAs were very popular, and listeners started calling radio stations to ask about the song. This prompted The Youngbloods record company, RCA, to re-release it, and this time it was an undeniable hit, reaching #5 in September 1969.

    When Rolling Stone asked Powers if he regretted selling the song, he answered, "A lot of people say I was stupid for selling all my rights to the song, but for ten years of my life, man, I can write another song."
  • Here are the charting versions of the song in America:

    1965: We Five (#31)
    1967: The Youngbloods (#62)
    1968: The Sunshine Company (#112)
    1969: The Youngbloods (#5)
    1996: Big Mountain (#44)

    Other acts to cover the song include Anne Murray, Skeeter Davis, Indigo Girls and Wilson Phillips.
  • The Youngbloods heard this song at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village when the singer Buzzy Linhart performed it. Jesse Colin Young went backstage and had Linhart write out the lyrics for the song, which The Youngbloods then recorded. In a Songfacts interview with Young, he said: "Somehow that song struck me in a deep and spiritual way and I knew that it would be with me for the rest of my life."
  • Early versions of this song were done in a folk style at a medium tempo. The Yardbirds version was slower, with a memorable acoustic guitar intro.
  • This was performed at Woodstock, but not by The Youngbloods, who missed the festival because they didn't get the invite in time - they were based in a small town north of San Francisco, and hard to get in touch with. The festival opener, Richie Havens, played it as the second song, following "Freedom."
  • This song has been used in a number of TV shows and movies, notably Forrest Gump, where it was part of a soundtrack that sold over 12 million copies. Other films to use the song include:

    Pump Up the Volume (1990)
    Radio Flyer (1992)
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
    Riding the Bullet (2004)
    Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

    TV shows include:

    Baywatch ("Lost and Found" - 1996)
    3rd Rock from the Sun ("Dick on a Roll" - 1998)
    Cold Case ("Volunteers" - 2004)
    The Simpsons ("Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou?" - 2009)
  • In 2017, this was used in commercials for Blue Diamond almonds. It also featured in Walmart's "Many Chairs, One Table" ad showing people of many ethnicities joining together for a meal.
  • The song's writer, Dino Valenti (Chester Powers), was friends with the band Quicksilver Messenger Service and wrote "Dino's Song," which made it onto their debut album. Valenti joined the group in 1969.
  • In 1969, The Youngbloods were set to perform this on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, but they ended up walking off the show. Carson, who rarely had rock bands on, made some remarks about how the band was being petulant. The Youngbloods explained that they had an agreement to play a new song along with "Get Together," which was two years old, but when the show ran long they were asked to play just "Get Together," which they found unacceptable.
  • This song was the last of the Dave Clark Five's eight Top 10 UK hits, reaching #8 when they recorded it as "Everybody Get Together" in 1970. The backing vocals on their version were done by the students of the Central London School of Speech and Drama. Included amongst the backing vocalists was one Peter Davison, who went on to star in the BBC TV series All Creatures Great And Small, 1977-'79, and as the fifth Dr. Who, 1982-'84. This was the only version of the song to have much impact in the UK.
  • Speaking with Songfacts, Jesse Colin Young talked about meeting Dino Valenti, who wrote the song. "I was kind of surprised to learn he was a New Yorker and kind of a tough guy," said Young. "I thought it was a strange and wonderful thing that he came up with this beautiful, angelic song. He was no angel at all, but that song came to him, and boy are we are lucky to have it."
  • Nirvana open their Nevermind track "Territorial Pissings" guitarist Krist Novoselic singing the chorus of "Get Together." Novoselic sings it in a mocking manner, but according to group leader Kurt Cobain, it was not a dig at the song, but on how the idea of coming together for the greater good had become a watered-down cliché in the media.
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Comments: 21

  • Ignatz from ToecheeseIn response to Gimel from Tel Aviv, Israel:
    In Nirvana's "Territorial Pissings", from the album "Nevermind", Kurt Cobain sings the chorus of this song - "Come on people now, smile on your brothers, everybody get together right now".
    That is actually Krist Novoselic who sings the "Get Together" introduction. You can see him do this on the live version of "Territorial Pissings".
  • Birdman_euston from London, UkThe close harmonies in the chorus still give me goose-bumps.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 11th 1966, the Youngblood's debut charted record, "Grizzly Bear", entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #95; and eight weeks later on February 5th, 1967 it peaked at #52 {for 1 week} and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
    The group had two other records make the Top 100; the fore mentioned "Get Together" and "Darkness, Darkness" {it peaked at #86 in 1970}.
  • Jorge from Bronx,nyThis song has always been selection when compiling great music in cds and cassettes. It's a song that mellows me out. I think once I saw a commercial using it, either Pepsi or Coca Cola - stop the war on colas.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 27th 1967, "Get Together" by the Youngbloods entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart for an eight week stay, debuting at #88 it peaked at #62 {for 1 week} on October 8th, 1967...
    Just under twenty-two months later on June 22nd, 1969 it re-entered the Top 100 at position #93; and on August 31st, 1969 it peaked at #5 {for 2 weeks} and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    The group had two other Top 100 records; "Grizzly Bear" {peaked at #52 in 1967} and "Darkness, Darkness" {reached #86 in 1970}.
  • Asokan from Tirupur, IndiaI am an Indian who has spent a lifetime delving into English songs after a chance hearing of the song "High'n'Dry" by Cliff Richard. Elvis became an obsession and I christened my son Elvis. I was an avid listener to music programs from BBC, VOA, Radio Australia and Radio Kuwait. Of all the 100s of songs by CCR, The Beatles, The Stones, Simon& Garfunkel, CSN&Y and thousands of others, this one song stands out. This is my anthem and I play it the first thing in the morning even after all these 45 years.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 2nd, 1965 the We Five performed "Let's Get Together" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    One month earlier on November 13th their version entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; peaked at #31 and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
    R.I.P. Jimmy O'Neill (Shindig's host, 1940 - 2013).
  • Coy from Palestine, TxThis song was also recorded by David Crosby on a solo album and by the Carpenters before being recorded by the Youngbloods. It probably came out at least 6 times before it was a hit.
  • Duffy from Sparks, GaOriginally recorded by The Kingson Trio and released in June of 1964. "Get Together" Playlist http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcpfUHDX2aLhCteG-GH65SLKXOengLqlI
  • Dave from Omaha, NeWhat an encouraging song this was to me when I was a rock n roll dj in the '70's. I especially liked the verse "Some may come and some may go, We shall surely pass, When the One that left us here Returns for us at last We are bu a moment's sunlight Fading in the grass" Years later that verbiage was echoed in "Dust in the Wind".
  • Marty from Buffalo, NyAs reported in LIFE magazine; There was a small car that drove very slowly with the throngs of young people walking along the road to the Woodstock Fesival in 1969. A hippie girl sitting on the roof of the car with a little, battery operated record player kept playing the The Youngblood's version of this song over and over and over again; supplying a solid contribution to the "peace and love" vibe that permeated the whole magical weekeknd.
  • Popa from Redondo Beach, CaThe author of Get Together (also recorded as "Let's Het Together") was Cester William Powers, Jr. (Chet Powers). The Youngbloods didn't make that up. Dino Valenti was one of several stage names used by Powers. The song was first recorded in 1964 by The Kingston Trio. The version recorded by We Five in 1965 charted in the US at #31. Jefferson Airplane recorded a version on their debut album in 1966. In 1966 Powers sold the song to Frank Werber, manager of the Kingston Trio, to help pay for his legal defense on drug charges. The Youngbloods version was originally released in 1967. It was reissued in 1969 after it was used in a television campaign. The 1969 release charted in the US at #10 and is the version most remembered.
  • Gimel from Tel Aviv, IsraelIn Nirvana's "Territorial Pissings", from the album "Nevermind", Kurt Cobain sings the chorus of this song - "Come on people now, smile on your brothers, everybody get together right now".
  • Peter from New York, NyThe Youngbloods didn't make up the name Chester Powers, it was Dino Valenti's real name.
  • Farrah from Elon, NcThe song that was covered with the title "Everybody Get Together", was actually sung by The We Five.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiathe lead singer of Aussie band Mental as Anything, Martin Plaza, also released a version of this song, very similar to the original
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnIt's a definitive call for peace and brotherhood in the late 60s. At least it got a second chance in 1969 after it flopped two years earlier.
  • Bill from Plano, TxThis song came up on my random play on the PC just now. Listen carefully to the left channel, especially in the beginning. Do you hear the "do do do do?" Like someone was setting the pace for the guitar part singing, "do do do do"
    Bill G
  • Jonathan from Natchitoches, LaAppeared in Season 1 Episode 16 of Cold Case on CBS. The name of the episode is "Volunteers."
  • The Jorge from Hell, OtherKrist Novoselic of Nirvana sings a distorted version of the chorus in the beginning of the song "Territorial Pissings"
  • Rato from Lisbon, PortugalThis song was later covered by the british group DAVE CLARK FIVE with the title "Everybody Get Together" (a single released on February 1970 - #8 in the UK charts). The mp3 file of this track is now available for download in www.discosantigos.com
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