Help Me Make It Through the Night
|"Help Me Make It Through the Night"|
|Song by Kris Kristofferson|
|from the album Kristofferson|
|A-side||"Help Me Make It Through the Night"|
|"Help Me Make It Through The Night"|
|Single by Sammi Smith|
|B-side||"When Michael Calls"|
|Sammi Smith singles chronology|
"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. Smith's recording of the song remains the most commercially successful and most well-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.
Background and writing
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 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 Dottie 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 it when it was originally offered to her was one of the greatest regrets of her career.
Kristofferson's original lyrics speak of a man's yearning for sexual intimacy. They were controversial in 1971 when the song was covered by a woman: 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.
Sammi Smith's recording reached number-one on the U.S. country charts and won the Grammy Award for Best Country Music Female 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. The song became a gold record.
Other charting versions
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. This version was later sampled extensively on Huff and Puff's 1996 dance track "Help Me Make It".
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.
In 1980, Willie Nelson covered the song. His rendition became a hit on the Country music charts of both the U.S. and Canada.
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||4|
|Canadian RPM Country Tracks||1|
In 2007, it was recorded for a second time in French with Annie Blanchard (Musicor Records) and the song made the Top 20 for 26 weeks, reaching a high of #6.
Other cover versions
Other artists who have recorded the song include:
- Ray Price, on the 1970 album For The Good Times, released slightly before Sammi Smith's version
- Jerry Lee Lewis, on the 1971 album Touching Home
- Lynn Anderson, on the 1971 album You're My Man
- Glen Campbell, on the 1971 album The Last Time I Saw Her
- Loretta Lynn, on the 1971 album I Wanna Be Free
- Johnny Mathis, on the 1971 album You've Got a Friend
- Andy Williams, on the 1971 album You've Got a Friend
- Jim Nabors, on the 1971 album Help Me Make It Through The Night
- Skeeter Davis, on the 1971 album Skeeter
- Dottie West, on the 1971 album Careless Hands
- Jeannie C. Riley, on the 1971 album Jeannie
- Joan Baez, on the 1971 album Blessed Are.... (In her 1987 memoir, Baez disclosed that she had had an affair with Kristofferson himself at the same approximate time.)
- Peggy Lee, on the 1971 album Where Did They Go
- Olivia Newton-John, on the 1971 album If Not for You
- Engelbert Humperdinck, on the 1971 album Another Time, Another Place and again in 2009 for A Taste of Country.
- Elvis Presley, on the 1972 album Elvis Now
- Saxophonist Hank Crawford, on the 1972 album Help Me Make It Through the Night
- Tammy Wynette, on the 1974 album Another Lonely Song
- Lena Zavaroni, on the 1974 album Ma! (He's Making Eyes At Me); she later performed it live on numerous occasions, including at her own wedding in 1989
- Charley Pride, on the 1976 album The Happiness of Having You
- Sergio Franchi, a tenor/crossover version on the 1976 DynaHouse album 20 Magnificent Songs.
- Harry James, on the 1979 album Still Harry After All These Years
- Monika Brodka, on the 2005 album "Album" 
- Bryan Adams, on the 2014 album Tracks of My Years
- Debbie Rule, covered the song on her album Texas Girls (2015).
Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash, recorded it as a duet. The recording is found on the 2006 compilation June Carter and Johnny Cash: Duets, released by Sony BMG. In this version, Johnny Cash inserts "June" before the line tonight I need a friend.
In 2008, Mariah Carey recorded a version of the song intended for inclusion on the soundtrack album of the film Tennessee, but the album was never released. Her recording was eventually released on YouTube in 2010.
Novelty and other language
In 1990, country novelty musician Ray Stevens produced a comedic version of the song. After a conventional balladic first verse with piano and strings, a Foghorn Leghorn character breaks in demanding "a little fire in it!" Stevens launches into an upbeat "hillbilly" bluegrass tempo, interspersing each line with mocking jokes of those lines: the first line "Take the ribbon from your hair," is followed by a ripping sound followed by a woman yelling, Spike Jones-style, and so on. Another comedic version was recorded by novelty group Big Daddy, which was performed in the style, and with musical references to The Coasters. A parody was called "Help Me Make It Through the Yard" by Pinkard & Bowden, in which the lyrics are altered to tell about the plight of a man coming home drunk: Take the rosebush from my hair, / Lord, it has a lot of thorns, / What's the sprinkler doing on / At this hour of the morn? ...
In Austria, a German language version of the song was recorded by S.T.S.. Its title in German was "Gö, Du Bleibst Heut Nacht Bei Mir". The song was also covered by UK singer Charlie Landsborough on his 2009 album 'Nothing Lasts Forever'. Another German Version ("Hilf Mir Durch Die Nacht") exists by Volker Lechtenbrink.
A Spanish version was recorded in Colombia in 2001 by Marco T.
An Estonian version was released in 1983 by Ivo Linna & Rock Hotel.
Television and film appearances
In the 1997 film The Ice Storm, the Sammi Smith recording plays in the background in one of the key party scenes.
In 2015, DeAnna Johnson covered this song on The Voice.
- Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
- Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 226.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 321.
- Cash Box Top 100 Singles, April 10, 1971
- "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
- "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
- Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 25, 1971
- "Huff & Puff's Help Me Make It sample of Gladys Knight & the Pips's Help Me Make It Through the Night". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- "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.
- "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
- "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.
- "Sergio Franchi". Discogs.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-21. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- Daw, Robbie (May 17, 2010). "Mariah Carey Covers "Help Me Make It Through The Night"". Idolator.