About the Song
A country music ballad originally released in 1970, “Help Me Make It Through The Night” was penned and first recorded by Kris Kristofferson in 1969. He composed the song and released it the following year and included on his first album, Kristofferson. American songwriter and record producer Fred Foster produced the song for Monument Records, which he founded in 1958 with Buddy Duane.
Right after its release, American country music singer-songwriter Sammi Smith covered “Help Me Make It Through The Night” in January 1970 for her debut studio album of the same name. Most notably, Smith’s recording of the song remains the most successful commercially and the most famous version in the U. S. Her version charted significantly on the Billboard charts as it reached no. 1 on the Hot Country Singles. In addition, Smith also won a Grammy award for Best Country Music Female Performance. Soon, the song became a certified Gold record and has been considered Smith’s signature song.
The Story Behind the Song
Many might be surprised that the inspiration of this erotic song was actually the great Frank Sinatra. But, it is not an erotic inspiration as to what you are thinking about.
Kristofferson revealed that he got the inspiration of conceiving the song from an interview with Frank Sinatra on Esquire magazine. In the interview, Sinatra was asked for what he believed in, which he immediately replied:
“Booze, broads, or a bible…whatever helps me make it through the night.”
Furthermore, Kristofferson shared that he wrote the song during the time when he was still a struggling songwriter. At that time, he was staying with fellow country music singer Dottie West and her husband, Bill. After writing the song, he offered it to West in which she rejected. She initially claimed that it was “too suggestive” for her. However, she eventually recorded it the following year when it was out. But several other had already covered and released versions of it prior to hers, some gaining massive success. With this, West confessed that not recording the song when it was originally given to her was one of the greatest regrets of her career.
Song Controversy, Its Lyrics
Aside from its mellow tune and soothing rhythm, the song reveals a lyrically erotic tune. This stirred a controversy during that time as it was “too provocative.” Originally, Kristofferson crafted its lyrics speaking of a man’s yearning for sexual intimacy.
Here are the lyrics of the song and try to read between the lines:
Take the ribbon from your hair
Shake it loose and let it fall
Layin’ soft upon my skin
Like the shadows on the wall
Come and lay down by my side
Till the early mornin’ light
All I’m takin’ is your time
Help me make it through the night
I don’t care who’s right or wrong
I don’t try to understand
Let the devil take tomorrow
Lord tonight I need a friend
Yesterday is dead and gone
And tomorrow’s out of sight
And it’s sad to be alone
LISTEN: Here is the original rendition of Kris Kristofferson of his 1970 song, “Help Me Make It Through the Night.”
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Help Me Make It Through the Night, Kris Kristofferso, Sammi Smith, Willie Nelson
Kris is a frigging song writing genius.
Mariah Carey did this song beautifully in 2010 for the movie Tennessee. Definitely worth a listen.