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Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

| November 16, 2010 | 0 Comments

This week in 1974 John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” became his first and only chart-topping solo single during his lifetime. It was from his Walls and Bridges album and featured Elton John on harmony vocals and piano.

The song was written during Lennon’s 18-month separation from Yoko Ono and involvement with May Pang.  “At night, he loved to channel-surf,” Pang told the Radio Times in December 2005, “and he 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’.”

It was recorded in NYC’s Record Plant where Elton John was prepping Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy.  As Lennon recalled a few months later: “I was fiddling about one night and Elton John walked in and said, ‘Say, can I put a bit of piano on that?’ I said, ‘Sure, love it!’ He zapped in. I was amazed at his ability. I knew him, but I’d never seen him play. I was really pleasantly surprised at the way he could get in on such a loose track and add to it and keep up with the rhythm changes — obviously, ’cause it doesn’t keep the same rhythm. And then he sang with me. We had a great time.”

Elton John, knowing a hit when he heard one, bet Lennon that the song would top the charts. A skeptical Lennon took him up on it saying that if it did, then he would appear on stage at one of Elton’s performances. Well, it hit #1 and Lennon made what would be his last major concert appearance at Elton John’s Thanksgiving Day performance at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 28, 1974.

Category: Behind The Song

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