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Whatever Gets You Thru the Night (1974) - John Lennon - All About the Song...

“The organ took us no more than five minutes ...” - said Lennon ...

What did the collaboration of the two Johns bring? The Story of Whatever Gets You Thru the Night (John Lennon and Elton John)…

"Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" is a song by John Lennon released as a single in 1974 by Apple Records. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the lead single in the United States from Walls and Bridges.

A rather interesting story is connected with this composition ... Actually, we propose to remember it today!

Whatever Gets You Thru the Night Song Story

The composition "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" began to take shape in early 1974 ... Initially, the song was a rough demo with a clear reference to "Jealous Guy".

"Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" single cover
"Whatever Gets You Thru The Night" single cover

No matter how strange it may sound, Lennon was inspired to create this single by ... night television. Yes Yes! In general, it is not a secret for anyone (at least for the musician's fans) that Lennon often found inspiration for writing his songs by watching various programs and literally “tearing out” his favorite phrases from them. So the case with "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" was no exception ... As the legend says, the Beatle watched the program of Reverend Ike, as he said:

“Let me say: it doesn't matter. Everything you need in the night ... "

Lennon was fascinated by the mystery and beauty of this phrase ... He quickly wrote it down so as not to forget (Lennon always kept a notebook with a pen at hand). So, the phrase of the evangelist was the beginning of a huge breakthrough ...

As for the musical design, the melody of this composition was inspired by the motives of "Rock Your Baby" - the famous song by George McCray, which became the leader of Billboard in the same 1974.

Recording and participation of Elton…

While work on the album was in full swing, a more polished version of "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" was being recorded at the Record Plant in New York: in the height of summer, and with the participation of Elton John ... Circumstances developed in the most fortunate way: during this very period, Elton was in the US recording his album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. When the work at the studio came to an end, the musician stopped in New York. And so, one evening he looked at the Record Plant studio, and ... added the missing touches to the composition!

John Lennon and Elton John
John Lennon and Elton John

John Lennon later recalled:

“Once I was busy at the studio until late at night ... And suddenly he comes in - Elton! Together with Tony King from Apple. And John asked, "Can I put some piano on this?" And I said, “Yes, of course! I love the piano!" And when John started playing…God, I was fascinated by his abilities! I have known him for a long time, but for the first time I heard him play… He is a great musician and pianist. I was really pleasantly surprised by how masterfully he managed to get on such a free track, keeping up with the change of rhythm ... And then we sang together. All in all, we had a great night!”

And indeed: Lennon and Elton elegantly reproduced harmonious vocals around one microphone ... Later, John added an organ to the recording! And this is despite his own admission:

"I'm the worst organist in the world!"

 

“The organ took us no more than five minutes…” — said Lennon.

Release and success!

When the composition was completed, Lennon and Elton drank a little ... Then John told his friend that he was the only Beatle who did not have a number one. This created a dispute between them: Elton suggested that Lennon join him on stage at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving Day if their joint work would bring him number one! And Lennon agreed. Although at first he was sure that the likelihood that he would actually have to fulfill his promise was extremely small ...

But soon after the newly minted composition was in the lead in the American chart, John had to fulfill the promise! Lennon later recalled:

“I was not ready for this turn of events, so I didn’t look very good on stage ...”

And so: on November 28, 1974, John Lennon, dressed in a black tuxedo and playing a black Fender Telecaster, joined Elton John to perform his record-breaking album with a version of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "I Saw Her Standing"! Irony of fate or not, but in the latter, Paul McCartney was originally on lead vocals ...

John Lennon with Elton John...
John Lennon with Elton John...

Alas, this was the last performance of John Lennon at a major event ... It is worth noting that it was during this period that the musician was separated from his wife Yoko ... Elton and John agreed to deliver tickets to her, and Yoko, in turn, ordered them orchids to the stage ... After the show, John and Yoko met backstage for the first time after a long separation.

Conclusion…

Soon, namely at the beginning of 1975, a new single by Elton John called "Philadelphia Freedom" was released. So what? And the fact that on the second side was the composition “I Saw Her Standing There”, recorded at Madison Square Garden with the participation of John Lennon! Here is such a friendly mutual help you can say!

By the way: as it turned out later, "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" was far from Lennon's first choice ... It was just this song that seemed to the Vice President of Capitol Records the most worthwhile! As a result, it became the Beatle's only solo number one single in the US! And Lennon himself was the last member of the group to achieve such success ...

In a beautiful footnote to the story, it remains only to add: as a result of their joint work, Lennon and Elton became so close friends that John and Yoko asked Elton to become the godfather of their son Sean after his birth in October 1975 ...

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