Do Whatever Works for You

‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night’ is a John Lennon song that was on his 1974 Walls and Bridges album and it featured Elton John on harmony vocals and piano.  The music was inspired by the #1 single at the time, ‘Rock Your Baby’ by George McCrae.  Elton John had a feeling that this song was going to be a hit, so he 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.  This song hit #1 in the US and charted #36 in the UK 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.  With this song, Lennon became the last of the Beatles to hit #1 US in their respective post-Beatles careers.

In the summer of 1974, John called on his friends who were all top session players of the day to help him out with this song.  They included drummer Jim Keltner and Arthur Jenkins playing percussion.  John’s pal from the Beatles’ early Hamburg days, Klaus Voormann, played bass, and his son Sean’s godfather Elton John provided backing vocals and piano.  Jesse Ed Davis played electric guitar and Eddie Mottau played acoustic guitar while Ken Ascher played the Clavinet.  The song’s blast of tenor saxophone, was provided by Texan shit-kicker Bobby Keys, the man who appeared on many Rolling Stones recordings gave this tune its rollicking signature sound.  Lennon created a promotional film for the song, in which he lip-synced the first verse while he was walking through Manhattan.  Yoko Ono later created an alternate video for the song, featuring animation of Lennon’s drawings.

This song was written during Lennon’s Lost Weekend an 18-month separation from Yoko Ono during this time he was involved with May Pang.  May Pang said that the inspiration for the lyrics came to John when he was watching late-night television.  Lennon loved to channel-surf, and he would pick up phrases from all the shows and one time, while he was in his New York City apartment, he stumbled upon a program featuring the black evangelist Reverend Ike who said, “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.”  John always kept a pad and pen by the bed and that is how this song started out.

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

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie MM Music Challenge #173 ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night’.

8 thoughts on “Do Whatever Works for You

  1. It was John’s first number 1…and just to me it wasn’t near his best song…I liked it but I guess it’s all about the timing.

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