Sheila E. performed a raw cover of the Beatles‘ “Come Together” on The Late Show on Wednesday with help from Jon Batiste and Stay Human. The cover also appears on the drummer/singer’s new LP, Iconic: Message 4 America.
Batiste and Stay Human rearranged “Come Together,” breaking the track into a series of brassy, stop-start funk vamps. Sheila E. stood behind a small drum kit, singing forcefully as she beat a steady rhythm on a pair of cowbells and smashed a cymbal. During the chorus, she rasped and yowled like the Seventies funk singer Betty Davis.
“Come Together” is just one cover from Sheila E.’s wide-ranging new album. She also put her stamp on songs by Marvin Gaye (a medley of “Inner City Blues” and “Trouble Man”), Parliament/Funkadelic (a combination of “One Nation Under A Groove” and “Mothership Connection”) and Curtis Mayfield (“Pusherman”).
She recorded the album during a grieving period that followed the death of her longtime friend and collaborator Prince and the election of Donald Trump. “I was mourning Prince, I was mourning our country,” Sheila E. told Rolling Stone. “This person who comes into office through bullying – it was just overwhelming. I cried a lot. I still often cry a lot. It’s just the way I heal.”
The album version of “Come Together” also features a contribution from Ringo Starr. “I remember calling Ringo and leaving a message of his cell phone,” she said. “He immediately calls me back saying to just bring him the sound files. He just killed it.”