“Whatever Gets You Through The Night”
As individuals, The Beatles have carried with them general characterizations about their songwriting styles. Paul is still the maker of ditties, Ringo is the “lets-have-a-party-and-make-a-record” guy. George was the spiritual seeker and John was the snarly boy with the rough edge.
Though the latter was somewhat true, time and again Lennon proved he could write a melody with the best of them. “Imagine” proves that as does “Whatever Gets You Through The Night.”
“Whatever Gets You Through The Night” was recorded in the summer of ’74 and released as a single a few months later. It wasn’t Lennon’s first choice as the lead single from Walls & Bridges, but he followed Capitol Records man Al Coury’s advice and allowed it to be released. Coury was correct: the song was Lennon’s lone #1 hit in the US.
Coury wasn’t alone in his assessment. Elton John, who played keyboards and provided background vocals, also bet Lennon it would be a hit (and won a guest performance from Lennon in November ’74 as a result of his victory).
Unlike many of us who fall asleep while channel surfing, it was a late night intersection with TV evangelist Reverend Ike that provided with song’s lyrical inspiration. “Let me tell you guys,” Ike is reported to have said. “It doesn’t matter, it’s whatever gets you through the night.”
This original promo video has Lennon lip-syncing to a version recorded sans Elton John.