Meaning of the Song "Let's Get Together" by the Youngbloods

The Youngbloods in 1968


The 1960s

Whenever I listen to the song "Get Together" ("Let's Get Together") by the Youngbloods, it brings back memories of the 1960s. A major part of my youth was lived during this turbulent decade when I never felt prouder to be an American. There was so much happening both good and bad, and San Francisco seemed to be the center of the new cultural order. In this hub I will comment on one song of the folk rock group, The Youngbloods, along with a monologue preceding the song. The song, of course, is "Get Together." The monologue and the song itself pretty much sum up what was happening in America and the world in the 1960s.

The Youngbloods - Get Together - 1967

One of The 60s Songs "Get Together"

According to Wikipedia, "Get Together" aka "Let's Get Together" was written in the early 1960s by an American singer and songwriter, Chet Powers, aka Dino Valent. "Get Together" was first recorded and released by the Youngbloods in 1967. The tune never made the music charts; however, when it was re-released by the Youngbloods in 1969, the song rose to number five on the hit charts. Basically, the song appeals for peace and brotherhood and talks about the polarity of love versus fear. To understand why this song so fittingly sums up the turbulent 60s, I will first interpret the meaning of the monologue preceding "Get Together," and then I will interpret the lyrics of the song.

Remembering the mid and late 1960s

What do you remember the most about the mid and late 1960s?

  • The Vietnam War
  • Hippies and the Flower Children
  • The Cultural Revolution in China
  • The Beatles
  • Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.
See results without voting

Monologue Preceding "Get Together"

In the 1969 version of "Get Together," an unknown male speaker gives a short monologue immediately preceding the song. I have transcribed this monologue which appears below as follows:

"San Francisco in the middle 60s was a special place to be a part of with no explanation. No mix of words, music, or memory can touch the knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time in the world whatever it meant. There was madness in any direction. At any hour you could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right: that we were winning. And that I think was the handle - that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil not in any mean or military sense. We didn't need that: our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum. We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west. And with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high water mark - that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

In reflecting on this monologue, I would have to say that, yes, San Francisco in the middle 60s was definitely a special place to be a part of. I first visited San Francisco in the fall of 1967 while serving a military tour at Monterey. At that time the City on the Bay was known for its liberalizing attitudes, and yes, I did experience some of that when I visited the famed "hippie" mecca of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. There was a new drug culture, changes in popular music, and a relaxation in sexual mores, just to name a few liberalizing attitudes. There was a madness in any direction as reflected by the widespread use of psychedelic drugs like LSD, psychedelic music by such groups as Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, and the opening of topless and bottomless bars. The youth of America seemed to be shedding its Victorian standards.

The monologue also points out that "There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we (the United States) were doing was right: that we were winning. And that (there was) an inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil." In the middle 1960s Lyndon Johnson had just been elected president by a landslide. Actually, he succeeded President Kennedy following his assassination in November of 1963. While Johnson was president, the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ended segregation and gave African-Americans (Blacks) equal rights with whites. President Johnson's Great Society programs were also passed by Congress. They were aimed at the elimination of poverty and racial injustice in America. Present day Medicare, Medicaid, and federal education funding are some of the legacies of the Great Society programs today. During the mid 1960s, the United States had also started escalating its role in the Vietnam War. The thinking of the country at that time was that Ho Chi-Minh's evil Communists of North Vietnam were trying to overthrow and take control of democratic South Vietnam. If North Vietnam with the assistance of the Vietcong succeeded in doing this, other countries in Southeast Asia like Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia would also fall to the Communists as in a domino effect. "Better dead than red" was definitely a feeling of the times.

Finally, it is noted in the monologue that if you go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west, "you can almost see the high water mark - that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back." Since the end of the Korean War in 1953 the United States had not really suffered any significant military or domestic setbacks. Starting in 1968 a series of events started to unfold which caused America's wave of momentum to finally break and roll back. One of these events was the Vietcong's Tet Offensive of 1968 which exposed the futility of supporting South Vietnam and winning the war. More and more U.S. soldiers were being killed and along with a corrupt South Vietnam government there was no end in sight to the war. Other events were the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy which demonstrated that there were still problems with race relations and liberal economic policies.

Meaning of "Let's Get Together"

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Lyrics and Interpretation of "Get Together"

The lyrics of "Get Together" are very beautiful and go as follow:

Love is but the song we sing,

And fear's the way we die.

You can make the mountains ring,

Or make the angels cry.

Know the dove is on the wing,

And you need not why.

C'mon people now

Smile on your brother

Ev'rybody get together

Try to love one another right now.

Some one will come and some will go

We shall surely pass

When the one that left us here

Returns for us at last

We are but a moments sunlight

fading in the grass

C'mon people now,

Smile on your brother

Ev'rybody get together

Try to love one another right now.

If you hear the song I sing,

You must understand,

You hold the key to love and fear

All in your trembling hand.

Just one key unlocks them both

It's there at your command.

C'mon people now,

Smile on your brother

Ev'rybody get together

Try to love one another right now

Right now

Right now!

What do the lyrics literally mean to me? Well, first we can see that this song is appealing for peace and brotherly love. Another interesting part of the song shows the polarity of love versus fear. The song is telling us here that fear and love have to be dealt with together. If we can deal with them together, we will be at peace during our brief stay on earth and when we die.

By 1969 when "Get Together" was re-released, there was a lot of fear and hatred not only in the United States, but in other places around the world. In the United States there was a lot of fear and hate towards all Communists, especially the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Communist soldiers who were our enemies. Remember at that time of history, the U.S. was locked in a bitter cold war with the Russian and Chinese Communists. Domestically, there was fear and hatred between the races, and also between the establishment and war protesters as evidenced by racial riots in American cities and the Kent State student shootings in 1968. in 1969 America definitely needed to get together and and try to love one another.

There was also a lot of fear in other places around the world. China was immersed in a Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution led by Chairman Mao and his followers against Mao's enemies who were supposedly following western capitalistic ideas. How can we forget the fear and hatred between the Arabs and the Jews which was manifested in 1967 War? The song "Get Together", however, undoubtedly is directed towards the United States and primarily concerned with ending the fear, hatred, and killing between the Americans and the Vietnamese Communists.

© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn

Comments 10 comments

lovemychris profile image

lovemychris 4 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

Nice Hub....You got it too.

It's trying to come back, and look! Meeting the same enemy!

LewSethics profile image

LewSethics 4 years ago

Great song, now I'll be hearing it in my head for days haha.

I visited the Haight-Asbury district in 1970 as part of my state hopping. People did that a lot in those days, just travel and live here and there for while. But the H-A district was already looking grim.

Great Hub, brought back many memories.

Hunter Thompson 4 years ago

I´m sorry, but you´re wrong. That monologue preceding the song is from the BSO from the film Fear and Loathing in las vegas. That monologue was written by Hunter S Thompson in 1971, in a book with the same name as the film (chapter 8).

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Thanks for the information about the monologue, Hunter. I stand corrected. Also, thanks for stopping by and commenting on the hub.

Duncan R. M. Decapolis 15 months ago

Yes I agree there's reference to the "signs of the times", war etc. But more so the tone, and main thrust of the song is a call to the Biblical mandate, of The Great Commandment, summarized as Love God, and love one another. Immediately, some would denegrate the love to an Eros type of love, but it's meaning is to take the higher road of Agape, highest love with God, The Creator, and subsequently Phileo, love as friendship/brotherly. (all stemming from the Greek language) From the first line of the song, it challenges the listener, to differentiate the meaning of the latter two aforementioned types of love. As if the Biblical teachings of Christ, to hear with your Spiritual ears. The perfect love that casts out all fear(1John 4:18) Interesting cast in Greek is "ripto" (phonetically) as if to literally rip the fear from one's self, and if unable to, as most all struggle to, calling on God's Strong Hand to rip it right out of us. The song also makes a parallel to the theme in 1John2(see vs. 10) but also up to vs. 17 which describes the lusts of life, and also the brevity of life. 1John 3:11-24 goes on to describe this love, note: Vs. 23. Then 1John 4:7-18 reiterates the message of love over hate and its historical roots, up to vs. 18 the first vs. I referenced. It's as if the lyrics make a direct reference to Psalm 90:5,6,9,10,12 "we are but a moments sunlight fading in the grass" Also in James 4:14, life is but a vapor. The dove in the lyric is representing The Holy Spirit, which we get pictures of from the ark: The raven or crow, smartest of birds, but like man though intelligent, yet intrinsically lent to disobedience, doesn't return to the ark, but the dove does, carrying an olive branch as both proof of dry land, but also a picture of the Triune Spirit of God(EloHim, plural name, Yahweh, Jeshua, Ruac Ha Kadesh, Holy Spirit in Hebrew) Also The Branch is a picture of Christ(please see Zechariah 3:7-10)( It also is a reference to The Cross of Christ, which can also be seen as early in Scripture as Genesis 1:11,12, that is if you have eyes, Spiritual ones, that is.) Also Christ "obedient to death, even death of The Cross"as stated in Scripture. "when The One that left us here returns for us at last" if this isn't The Second Coming of Christ, I don't know what is! Note: Bad Religions song "sorrow no more" references also "when The Only True Messiah Comes to rescue us from ourselves"The Bible speaks of The Second Coming exponentially more than His First Coming. A warning to those who don't think so? "Anathema Maranatha."("accursed are them that don't believe in The Coming of The Lord" 1Corinthians 16:22) Also keep in mind many of these (Biblical)principles were still intact, in 1967, 5 years since God outa schools. Fast forward 50plus years and we see shootings in schools and public venues(malls, theaters etc.) as commonplace. On news after recent Louisiana, they even have tips, protection etiquette in theater shootings! 7/26/2015 Duncan R.M. Decapolis

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 15 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

I haven't read the Bible in a long time so I am not aware of all these references in the song which you find in Bible verses. Thanks for pointing them out because they really add meaning to this great song. Thank you very much for sharing your comments!

Duncan R.M.Decapolis 15 months ago

Thanks Paul, please excuse my somewhat scattered form, my mind gets racing with ideas, points of reference and I'm a lousy typer, chasing my tail to keep up! I'm glad you approved on your site, oh on lyrics I did a little more, they asked "bird on the wing" line. I also relayed readers to your site for cross reference. God bless u.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 14 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Duncan, please excuse my long delay in replying to your comments. I will have to check out lyrics and I thank you for cross referencing my article.

Carmen 6 months ago


I believe you have brought to light the inside edition of all the other comments. In other words; the answer. Yes, all the others call attention to the turbulence of the 60's, but the call then and now is still peace.

Who would they be referencing here?

"Some will come and some will go

And we shall surely pass

When the one that left us here

Returns for us at last"

I believe they mean Jesus. "...Peace be with you"

John 20:19ff

He said it to a room full of frightened disciples, hiding from the political and military power of the world at that moment. If they could kill Jesus, the one who mended the broken, filled eyes with sight, filled ears with sound, filled limbs with life, calmed the sea, and raised the dead to life; they could kill his disciples. Yet Jesus comes; much needed, but uninvited, "Peace be with you".

The 60's may have been a time of psychedelic intervention, but today it is no less, nor is the need for peace. Peace be with you my brother, I can't read your whole post, but what I could read warmed my spirit.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

John 14:1-4 NIV

"Get together, right now"

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 6 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Thank you very much for your awesome comments, Carmen. I couldn't agree more with them. It is necessary for people all over the world to "get together, right now."

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