|Whatever Gets You thru the Night|
Single by John Lennon from the album Walls and Bridges
B-side "Beef Jerky"
Released 23 September 1974 (US)
4 October 1974 (UK)
Recorded JuneJuly 1974
Label Apple Records
Writer(s) John Lennon
Producer John Lennon
"Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" is a song written by John Lennon, released as a single in 1974 on Apple Records, catalogue Apple 1874 in the United States and Apple R5998 in the United Kingdom. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #36 on the British singles chart. It was the lead single for the Walls and Bridges album in the US, but released the same day as the album in the UK.
This was Lennon's only solo #1 single in the United States during his lifetime, and Lennon was the last member of The Beatles to achieve his first American number one solo hit.
The recording featured Elton John on harmony vocals and piano. While in the studio, Elton bet Lennon that the song would top the charts, and such was Lennon's scepticism that Elton secured from him a promise to appear on stage at one of his performances should the record indeed hit number one.
When the record did achieve that feat, Lennon appeared at Elton John's Thanksgiving performance at Madison Square Garden on 28 November 1974. It would be his last major concert appearance.
The inspiration for the lyrics came from late-night television. In December 2005, May Pang told Radio Times: "At night he loved to channel-surf, and would pick up phrases from all the shows. One time, 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." 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'."
The music was inspired by the number one single at the time, Rock Your Baby by George McCrae.
This track wasn't Lennon's first choice for a single. It was actually chosen by Capitol Records vice president Al Coury, who had recently worked his singles 'magic' with Paul McCartney's Band on the Run album.
Lennon created a video for the song, in which he lip-synced the first verse while walking through Manhattan. Ono created an alternate video for the song, featuring an animation of Lennon's drawings.
In 2007, Yoko Ono granted Amnesty International the opportunity to have a number of bands cover John Lennon's solo songbook, which includes this song. Los Lonely Boys and Les Trois Accords performed it as the second single from the Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur album.
The live recording with the Elton John Band was released in 1981 on the EP "28 November 1974". The recording is also available on the Lennon box set and the 1996 remastered edition of Elton John's Here and There album.
The musicians who performed on the original recording were:
John Lennon lead vocals, guitar
Elton John harmony vocal, piano
Ken Ascher clavinet
Jesse Ed Davis guitar
Arthur Jenkins percussion
Jim Keltner drums
Bobby Keys saxophone
Eddie Mottau acoustic guitar
Klaus Voormann bass
The musicians who performed on the 1974 live recording were
John Lennon guitar, vocals
Elton John harmony vocal, piano
The Muscle Shoals Horns