Whatever Gets You Thru The Night By John Lennon (Apple, 1974)

If you didn’t think John Lennon could get funky, here’s your proof. Perhaps trying to live down his rep as the serious Beatle, Lennon recorded and released this track as the first cut from his Walls & Bridges LP. He had some help from Elton John who played pianos and sang harmony vocals as well as a much needed looser Stones-like feel [probably due to Rolling Stones cohort, Bobby Keys, ripping it on sax]. Elton, who was racking up hit after hit, was convinced that the song was a #1. John didn’t think so and being the only Beatle without a #1, probably was feeling a sorry for himself as well.

Nevertheless Elton made a bet with John that if the 45 went to #1, John would have to play with Elton live at one of his shows. John figured why not. If he has a #1 song and he has to play a show with Elton John, that might actually be fun. {John didn’t do many live shows at this point, Paul too for that matter] Not sure what would have happened if the song stalled at #2 or lower. Would Elton John have to do a piano ballad about the plight of the world without smiling or outlandish costumes. Then that would’ve been a bit. Bash old Elton – only 3= years from his career-jumpstarting stint at the Troubadour in Los Angeles and here he was making records and bets with Winston O’Boogie. Must have been the coke that gave him such balls. [Winston was pseudonym John Lennon used when he played guitar o Elton’s cover of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, #1 in early 1975]

Here’s another reason why Lennon might have boogied a bit more those days – he was in the middle of his “lost weekend”. For us laymen that might be a night or weekend; for John it was about 18 months. John was making more headlines getting drunk with Ringo & Harry Nilsson (and occasionally, Bobby Keys) than he was making music. Walls & Bridges was created in the middle of this debauchery and within a another year, he would reunite with Yoko Ono, put music on hold and raise his son, Sean.

On November 28th, John made good on his word and joined Elton on stage at Madison Square Garden in New York and played 3 songs: Whatever…, Lucy… and I Saw Her Standing There. It was his last public appearance on stage and in 6 short years from that concert, Lennon would be gone.

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