Gary Clark Jr. on 'Come Together' Cover: 'I Hope Paul and Ringo Dig It'

Guitarist also shares an update on the dark new music he's been making in Texas

Gary Clark Jr. discusses his freewheeling cover of the Beatles' "Come Together" with Junkie XL, as well as his plans for new music. Credit: Joey Martinez

Gary Clark Jr. had never so much as considered covering the Beatles' "Come Together" until he was approached to play on a version of it for the Justice League soundtrack. It ended up being the most fun Clark has ever had in the studio. "I don't know what 'toe-jam football' is, but I'll sing the shit out of it," he nonchalantly tells Rolling Stone. "I printed out the lyrics and I went for it."

The recording is a freewheeling electro-rock crossover that features Clark playing his signature bluesy guitar licks around Junkie XL's stomping, bass-heavy refiguring of the Beatles riff. Fittingly, Clark's vocal performance grooves up slowly, and he commands a wailing guitar solo at the end that's been evolving on the road since he left the recording studio. There's even a six-minute extended version of the tune with more guitar.

Clark says he was wholly unaware of Junkie XL, who's best known for his remix of Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation" and comic-book move soundtracks, before they met. The producer simply showed Clark some videos of him performing before broaching the subject at hand: playing over what Clark describes as Junkie XL's "industrial, raw, futuristic-type shit" in "Come Together." "He said, 'I think you would be the guy to do this thing some sort of justice,'" Clark recalls. "Then he said, 'You know that fuzzy guitar shit that you do?' And I was like, 'Yeah.' And he was like, 'Just do that.' Then I put the guitar over my shoulder and just let loose."

"It was like being in a garage band again, just 15-year-old kids making noise," Clark adds. "The last time I felt that I was in a session with Alicia Keys. It was incredible. It just depends on who you work with and what kind of energy they bring. We left, and I was like, 'Man, we got to do this again.'"

As for whether or not the two actually will jam together again, Clark says it's up in the air. They want to see how "Come Together" does commercially, since the producer is tied up in movie sores and has a tight schedule. In the meantime, Clark has been slowly moving forward with new music. It's been two years since he put out The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, and he's now in the early stages of making a follow-up in a Texas studio. Lately, he's been collaborating with a couple of Austin-based rappers, Zeale and Phranchyse. "I don't know why he can't just spell 'franchise' like normal people, but we went to school together," Clark says with a laugh. "I make beats from time to time and we just decided to put that together."

Right now, he says it's too soon to tell when the recordings would come out, though, since he's "just being free and creative and having fun" at the moment. But Clark adds there's a darkness to the material, considering he's been writing about current events. "I don't know if I will be addressing Trump directly, but that's something that's happening in life and it's hard not to see it happen," he says. "The things I'm writing and thinking about aren't necessarily meadows and orchards, you know what I mean?"

Until he's ready to put that out, though, he says he's enjoying working out a live arrangement of "Come Together" on the road. "I'm still messing up the lyrics," he says with a laugh. "We've been playing it for a few moths, so it's still fresh and very new. I'm sure it will take on some sort of new life when we get comfortable with it. All my songs tend to do that."

Ultimately, he has one goal in mind for the song. "It's a classic, so I was cautious with it," he says. "I just hope that when Paul and Ringo hear it, they dig it. That's all you can hope for."