Help Me Make It Through The Night

Album: Help Me Make It Through The Night (1970)
Charted: 8
Play Video


  • This #1 Country hit was written by the songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson. As the story goes, Kristofferson was sweeping floors and emptying ashtrays at Columbia Records in Nashville before scoring big with this, as well as a series of other songs, which included "Me And Bobby McGee" (a #1 hit and an enduring rock classic for the late Janis Joplin), "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," "For the Good Times," and "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)." Kristofferson was a Golden Gloves boxer, a Phi Beta Kappa college graduate, and a Rhodes Scholar who spent time at Oxford University in England before becoming a commercial helicopter pilot. But his first love was country songwriting. He turned down a teaching position at West Point to work as a janitor at Columbia, trying to break into the music business. Break in he indeed did. But it took some persistence and theatrics. For example, he is said to have landed a helicopter in Johnny Cash's yard to get the famous Country singer's attention so he could hand over some demo tapes of his original songs. Persistence and unconventional tactics paid off handsomely for the multi-talented Kristofferson.
  • Sammi Smith's classic cover of this song catapulted Kristofferson into a songwriters' spotlight reserved for the coveted few, and earned him a Grammy for best country song in 1971. It also won Smith a Grammy for best Country vocal performance female - as well as the Country Music Association's single of the Year Award. Smith died on February 12, 2005 at the age of 61. Her vocal performance on this song is regarded by some as one of the finest in Country music.
  • This song saw a recording boom throughout the '70s after Kristofferson and Smith released their versions at the start of the decade, including covers from Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joan Baez, Ray Price, Lynn Anderson, Loretta Lynn, Olivia Newton-John, Andy Williams, Skeeter Davis, Tammy Wynette, Dottie West, Engelbert Humperdinck, John Holt, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and a duet from June Carter and Johnny Cash.
  • Willie Nelson had a #4 Country hit with this song in 1980.
  • Kristofferson got the idea for this song after reading an Esquire 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."
  • Dottie West, who would later record a cover of this song, originally turned it down because it was too provocative.
  • Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter John Holt spawned a hit in the UK with his version of the song. His cover peaked at #6 in 1974.

Comments: 11

  • Henry from Hayward, CaliforniaI remember radio stations playing this in thev1970's. I'm sad that they don't play this anymore :(
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 20th 1972, Gladys Knight and the Pips performed "Help Me Make it Through the Night" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    The week before was its 8th and last week on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on March 19th, 1972 at position #74, four weeks later on April 23rd it peaked at #33 for two weeks...
    It reached #13 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1961 and 1987 the Atlanta, GA group had forty Top 100 records; eight made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "Midnight Train to Georgia" for two weeks in 1973...
    They just missed having three #1 records when "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "Neither One of Us" both peaked at #2 on the Top 100.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 3rd 1971, Sammi Smith performed "Help Me Make It Through the Night" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was in its second of two weeks at #8 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    {See the next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 10th 1971, "Help Me Make It Through The Night" by Sammi Smith entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 21st it peaked at #8 (for 2 weeks) and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100 (and for three of those 16 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    And on September 7th, 1971 it reached #1 (for 3 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
    Certainly would not refer to her as a 'one hit wonder'; between 1968 and 1986 she had thirty five records make the Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
    R.I.P. Ms. Smith, born Jewel Faye Smith, (1943 - 2005).
  • Staley from Dallas, TxThis was Sammi Smith's biggest hit, but it certainly was NOT a "one hit wonder." She had several other chart hits (and a son who's a stud).
  • Laura from Long Island, NyJoe Walsh wrote "Help Me Through The Night"... fantastic song. Not the same song as Help Me "Make It" Through the Night.
  • Farrah from Elon, NcThis is a superb version. I however must confess that I also like Ray Stevens' version because only he could take a beautiful ballad like "Help Me Make Through The Night" and make it hilarious.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThe song has charted three other times; the year Sammi peaked at No. 8 in 1971, Joe Simon peaked at No. 69 & O.C. Smith reached No. 91. Then in 1972 Gladys Knight & the Pips took it No. 33!!!
  • Rick from Belfast, MeIt may have been a one hit wonder for Sammi Smith, but oh my, this song STILL causes a stir when played!!!!!!Excellent country music!!!!!
  • Bob from Tomahawk, WiJoe Walsh did a version of this song, I first heard him do it on the "Hell Freezes Over" DVD. It is a lovely, heartbreaking ballad, I think that his voice does it justice. Also, concidering the lifestyle he has lived over the years I'm sure he has felt this way once or twice!!!
  • Ricky from OhswekenTHE PERFECT version of this song!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors Examined

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors ExaminedSong Writing

Doors expert Jim Cherry, author of The Doors Examined, talks about some of their defining songs and exposes some Jim Morrison myths.

Andy McClusky of OMD

Andy McClusky of OMDSongwriter Interviews

Known in America for the hit "If You Leave," OMD is a huge influence on modern electronic music.

Chris Frantz - "Genius of Love"

Chris Frantz - "Genius of Love"They're Playing My Song

Chris and his wife Tina were the rhythm section for Talking Heads when they formed The Tom Tom Club. "Genius of Love" was their blockbuster, but David Byrne only mentioned it once.

Chris Squire of Yes

Chris Squire of YesSongwriter Interviews

One of the most dynamic bass player/songwriters of his time, Chris is the only member of Yes who has been with the band since they formed in 1968.

Corey Hart

Corey HartSongwriter Interviews

The Canadian superstar talks about his sudden rise to fame, and tells the stories behind his hits "Sunglasses At Night," "Boy In The Box" and "Never Surrender."

Amy Grant

Amy GrantSongwriter Interviews

The top Contemporary Christian artist of all time on song inspirations and what she learned from Johnny Carson.