"Whatever Gets You thru the Night"
A-side label of the UK single
Single by John Lennon
from the album Walls and Bridges
B-side"Beef Jerky"
Released23 September 1974 (US)
4 October 1974 (UK)
RecordedJune–July 1974
Songwriter(s)John Lennon
Producer(s)John Lennon
Walls and Bridges track listing
Music video
"Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" on YouTube

"Whatever Gets You thru the Night" is a song written by John Lennon, released as a single in 1974 on Apple Records, catalogue number Apple 1874 in the United States and Apple R5998 in the United Kingdom.[2] It peaked at No. 1 on all three record charts: Billboard Hot 100, Cashbox, and Record World,[3] and at No. 36 in the UK.[2][4] It was the lead single for Lennon's album Walls and Bridges; in the UK the single was released on the same day as the album. "Whatever Gets You thru the Night" was Lennon's only solo No. 1 single in the United States during his lifetime,[5] and Lennon was the last member of the Beatles to achieve this level of success.[6][7][8] In Canada, the single spent two weeks at No. 2, and became the 30th biggest hit of 1974.[9]


The inspiration for the lyrics came from late-night television. In December 2005, May Pang told Radio Times: 'At night [Lennon] 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 No. 1 single at the time, "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae.[10][11] Although the released track bears little resemblance, the inspiration is more apparent on the alternative version released on John Lennon Anthology.


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 No. 1. When the record did achieve that feat, Lennon appeared at John's Thanksgiving performance at Madison Square Garden on 28 November 1974. It was Lennon's last major concert appearance.

"Whatever Gets You thru the Night" was not Lennon's first choice for a single. It was chosen by Capitol Records vice-president Al Coury, who had recently worked his singles 'magic' with Paul McCartney's album Band on the Run.[12] Lennon created a promotional film for the song, in which he lip-synced the first verse while walking through Manhattan. Yoko Ono later created an alternate video for the song, featuring animations of Lennon's drawings.

In 2007, Yoko Ono granted Amnesty International the opportunity to have a number of bands cover Lennon's solo songbook, which included 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.[13] The recording is also available on the box set Lennon (1990) and the 1996 expanded/remastered edition of Elton's album Here and There (1976).


Cash Box stated, "The production is excellent and the arrangement is full, using diverse instrumentation. Lennon's lyric as always is catchy and the driving rhythms have this moving up extra fast."[14]

Chart performance


The musicians who performed on the original recording were:[24]

The musicians who performed on the 1974 live recording largely comprised Elton John's band:


  1. ^ Smith, Troy L. (14 December 2021). "Every No. 1 song of the 1970s ranked from worst to best". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b Blaney, John (2005). "1973 to 1975: The Lost Weekend Starts Here". John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0.
  3. ^ Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 326. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0.
  4. ^ "Record World" (PDF). Worldradiohistory.com. 16 November 1974. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  5. ^ Madinger, Raille, Lennonology, p430, ISBN 978-163110-175-5
  6. ^ "The Number Ones: John Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night"". Stereogum.com. 13 June 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  7. ^ "Ringo had TWO number one hits before John had his first number one hit! | BeatlesHistorian.com gives a unique part of Beatles history every week covering Beatles topics not found elsewhere". Beatleshistorian.com. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  8. ^ Eric Schaal (20 February 2019). "Which Beatle Had the Most No. 1 Hits as a Solo Artist?". Cheatsheet.com. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  9. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 10 October 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  10. ^ Playboy Interview, Sheff, 1981
  11. ^ Blaney, John (2005). "1973 to 1975: The Lost Weekend Starts Here". John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0.
  12. ^ Pang "Instamatic Karma" 2008
  13. ^ "Elton John Band Featuring John Lennon And Muscle Shoals Horns, The* – 28th November, 1974 at Discogs". Discogs. 28 November 1974. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  14. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. 28 September 1974. p. 24. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 19 October 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Classifiche". Musica e Dischi (in Italian). Retrieved 27 May 2022. Set "Tipo" on "Singoli". Then, in the "Artista" field, search "John Lennon".
  18. ^ "SA Charts 1965 – March 1989". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  20. ^ "Music lyrics, charts, Games, & more". Top40db.net. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  21. ^ http://cashboxmagazine.com/archives/70s_files/1975[dead link]
  22. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  23. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
  24. ^ Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen To This Book. Guildford, Great Britain: Biddles Ltd. p. 145. ISBN 0-9544528-1-X.
  25. ^ "Walls And Bridges". Jpgr.co.uk. Retrieved 14 March 2022.