John Lennon – Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

Heard this before I knew who John Lennon was and it is a good song…just not one of his best songs to me. It was his first solo number-one single. Many times the charts are about timing and it was the right time for this one to hit. In the video, you can see John walking around New York interacting with different people

Elton John sang backing vocals and also played piano on this track. He had a bet with Lennon that “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” song would become a #1 hit. If it did Lennon would have to appear in concert with Elton. Lennon never thought it would be a #1 hit.

When it did reach number 1, Lennon made good on the wager by making a guest appearance at an Elton John concert on Thanksgiving night 1974 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It turned out to be Lennon’s last live concert performance.

This very upbeat John Lennon song has a simple message…do whatever works for you. It was his first US #1 hit as a solo artist… he had another with “(Just Like) Starting Over,” which topped the chart in 1980 after his death.

John got the phrase by watching late-night TV. He was watching Reverend Ike, a famous black evangelist, who was saying, “Let me tell you guys, it doesn’t matter, it’s whatever gets you through the night.” Lennon loved it, wrote it down, and wrote a song about it.

This song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, and #36 in the UK. in 1974

 

From Songfacts

In December 2005, John and Yoko’s personal assistant May Pang told Radio Times: “At night he (John Lennon) loved to channel-surf, and he would pick up phrases from all the shows. One time, he was watching John loved it and said, “I’ve got to write it down or I’ll forget it.” He always kept a pad and pen by the bed. That was the beginning of Whatever Gets You Thru The Night.”

With this song, Lennon became the last of the Beatles to hit #1 US in their respective post-Beatles careers. By this time Paul McCartney had hit #1 three times, and George Harrison and Ringo Starr twice each.

Structurally, this is a rather unusual song: it’s really all chorus, separated by blasts of saxophone. Lennon alters the lines a bit in the various sections though:

Whatever gets you through the night
Whatever gets you through your life
Whatever gets you to the light

Don’t need a sword to cut through flowers
Don’t need a watch to waste your time
Don’t need a gun to blow you mind

These little lyrical alterations keep the song from sounding repetitive, even without verses.

In 1975 Lennon helped out on Elton’s John’s #1 cover of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” Lennon played guitar on that track and was credited as “Dr. Winston O’Boogie.”

In 1975 Lennon helped out on Elton’s John’s #1 cover of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” Lennon played guitar on that track and was credited as “Dr. Winston O’Boogie.”

What was it like recording the Walls And Bridges album? When we asked David Thoener, who was an engineer at the sessions, he told us: “It was amazing. Despite all of the personal pain John Lennon was in, (it was during his lost weekend) he was a consummate professional in the studio. Almost as if working kept him sane, through those difficult times. Working with him was quite an experience and something I am very glad to have been part of.”

This hit the top of the US charts, but it fell fast. It spent just three weeks in the Top 10 before dropping from 2-16 in November 1974. In 2004 Fantasia broke this record when after two weeks in the Top 10, “I Believe” dropped from #6-18.

Bobby Keys, who appears on many Rolling Stones recordings, played the tenor saxophone on this track. Ken Ascher played the Clavinet.

Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

Whatever gets you through the night
It’s all right, it’s all right
It’s your money or your life
It’s all right, it’s all right
Don’t need a sword to cut through’ flowers
Oh no, oh no

Whatever gets you through your life
It’s all right, it’s all right
Do it wrong, or do it right
It’s all right, it’s all right

Don’t need a watch to waste your time
Oh no, oh no

Hold me, darlin’, come on, listen to me
I won’t do you no harm
Trust me, darlin’, come on, listen to me
Come on, listen to me; come on, listen, listen

Whatever gets you to the light
It’s all right, it’s all right
Out of the blue, or out of sight
It’s all right, it’s all right
Don’t need a gun to blow you mind
Oh no, oh no

Hold me, darlin’, come on, listen to me
I won’t do you no harm
Trust me, darlin’, come on, listen to me
Come on, listen to me, come on, listen, listen

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

26 thoughts on “John Lennon – Whatever Gets You Thru The Night”

  1. I’ve always liked this one and the Walls & Bridges album. Elton is so prevalent on the song it sounds like it could be his own. Every time I hear the intro I think Don Pardo’s going to come on and say “It’s Saturday Night Liiiiiiiive…”

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    1. Many times the best songs don’t hit number 1 of artists…I do like it because compared to Imagine and others…its a little lighter.

      Like

  2. I’ve always dug this upbeat tune. I also think Elton and John sound great together. Also, nice that Elton’s calculation worked out and John ended up joining him on stage at Madison Square Garden. At the same time, it’s bittersweet that it turned out to his last public performance. After Lennon’s death, Elton wrote the moving “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny).” Listening to that song can still make me cry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would have bought their records!
      Yea you are right. Everything Elton touched turned to gold or platinum at that time…I’m sure it helped.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is one of my favorite John solo songs, and the title is one of my credos now. Sometimes it’s whatever you find to get you through. Good song for a Sunday afternoon (well, evening now!)

    Liked by 2 people

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