Help Me Make It Through the Night

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"Help Me Make It Through the Night"
Song by Kris Kristofferson
from the album Kristofferson
A-side"Help Me Make It Through the Night"
Released1970
Recorded1969
GenreCountry
Length2:24
LabelMonument
Songwriter(s)Kris Kristofferson
Producer(s)Fred Foster
"Help Me Make It Through The Night"
Help Me Make It Through The Night - Sammi Smith.jpg
Single by Sammi Smith
B-side"When Michael Calls"
ReleasedNovember 1970
GenreCountry
LabelMega Records
Songwriter(s)Kris Kristofferson
Producer(s)Jim Malloy
Sammi Smith singles chronology
"Help Me Make It Through The Night"
(1970)
"I've Got to Have You"
(1972)

"Help Me Make It Through The Night" is a country music ballad written and composed by Kris Kristofferson and released on his 1970 album Kristofferson. It was covered later in 1970 by Sammi Smith, on the album Help Me Make It Through the Night.

Sammi Smith version[edit]

Smith's recording of the song remains the most commercially successful, and best-known, version in the United States. Her recording ranks among the most successful country singles of all time in terms of sales, popularity, and radio airplay. It topped the country singles chart, and was also a crossover hit, reaching number eight on the U.S. pop singles chart. "Help Me Make It Through The Night" also became Smith's signature song. In 1975, the title appeared in the lyrics of Paul Anka's "I Don't Like to Sleep Alone."

Other cover versions[edit]

Inspired by Smith's success with the song, numerous other artists covered it soon thereafter, including Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Glen Campbell, Dottie West, Joan Baez, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Joey Sontz, Mariah Carey, Ray Stevens, Willie Nelson, Olivia Newton-John and, strangely, ten-year-old Lena Zavaroni.

Other artists who have recorded charting versions of the song include Gladys Knight & the Pips, John Holt, and (in French) Claude Varade. The Michael Bublé version features American singer Loren Allred.

Background and writing[edit]

Kristofferson said that he got the inspiration for the song from an Esquire Magazine interview with Frank Sinatra. When asked what he believed in, Frank replied, "Booze, broads, or a bible...whatever helps me make it through the night."

During his time as a struggling songwriter, Kristofferson wrote and composed the song while staying with Dottie West and her husband, Bill, at their home on Shy's Hill Road in Nashville's Green Hills neighborhood. When he offered West the song, she originally claimed it was "too suggestive" for her. Eventually, she would record it before the year was out, and it is included on her album Careless Hands. However, by then, several others had recorded and released versions of it, some garnering great success. Later on, West said that not recording "Help Me Make It Through The Night" when Kristofferson originally offered it to her was one of the greatest regrets of her career; though her version charted,[when?] it was not as successful as Smith's version had been.

Content[edit]

Kristofferson's original lyrics speak of a man's yearning for sexual intimacy. They were controversial in 1971 when the song was first covered by a woman, Sammi Smith in that case: "I don't care what's right or wrong, I don't try to understand / Let the devil take tomorrow, Lord tonight I need a friend."

Chart performance[edit]

Sammi Smith[edit]

Sammi Smith's recording reached number-one on the U.S. country charts and won the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. On February 20, 1971, it reached number 8 on Billboard's U.S. pop singles chart, and also enjoyed success in Canada. Adult-Contemporary stations took to the song, and it peaked at number 3 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart. Additionally, it spent three weeks at number 1 on the Country chart.[1] The song became a gold record.

Willie Nelson[edit]

In 1980, Willie Nelson covered the song. His rendition became a hit on the country music charts of both the U.S. and Canada.

Chart (1979–80) Peak
position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[12] 4
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1

Other charting versions[edit]

In 1971, Joe Simon hit #69 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the Hot Soul Singles chart.

In 1972, a version by Gladys Knight & the Pips reached number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 13 on the Hot Soul Singles chart, and was a Top 10 pop hit in the United Kingdom.

In 1974, John Holt included the song on his album 1000 Volts of Holt. That year, his recording of the song made it into the UK Top Ten.

In 1975, the French Canadian singer Claude Valade recorded a French version of the song, "Aide-moi à passer la nuit," produced and distributed by London Deram Records. The French-language lyrics were written by Canadian singer-songwriter Christine Charbonneau. The song made its way to fame and was on the charts (3rd place) for more than six months.[13]

In 2007, it was recorded for a second time in French, with Annie Blanchard recording it on the Musicor Records label, and the song made the Top 20 for 26 weeks, reaching a high of #6.[14]

Television and film appearances[edit]

In 1972, John Huston used Kristofferson's version as the theme for his feature Fat City. It plays under the title credits, with instrumental arrangements later in the movie.

In 1978, Kristofferson made a guest appearance on the television series The Muppet Show; on that episode, he performed "Help Me Make It Through the Night" as a duet with a besotted Miss Piggy.

In the 1997 film The Ice Storm, the Sammi Smith recording plays in the background in one of the key party scenes.

In 2013, American Idol contestant Kree Harrison sang this song during season 12 on "Songs They Wish They Had Written" week.[citation needed]

In 2015, DeAnna Johnson covered this song on The Voice.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  2. ^ Australian-charts.com
  3. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  4. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 226.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 321.
  7. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, April 10, 1971". Archived from the original on June 8, 2015. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  8. ^ "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  10. ^ Musicoutfitters.com
  11. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 25, 1971". Archived from the original on October 6, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  12. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  13. ^ "Claude Valade Hit Parade, Aide-moi à passer la nuit, in 3rd place for 26 weeks" (PDF). 2.banq.qc.ca. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  14. ^ "Annie Blanchard, Aide-moi à passer la nuit, Top 20, Charts" (PDF). 2.banq.qc.ca. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-08-05.

External links[edit]