Inspired by Smith's success with the song, numerous other artists covered it, including Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Glen Campbell, Joan Baez, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson, Gladys Knight and Michael Buble.
Kristofferson said that he got the inspiration for the song from an ‘Esquire’ magazine interview with Frank Sinatra. When Sinatra was asked by the interviewer what he believed in, Frank replied, "Booze, broads, or a bible...whatever helps me make it through the night."
A number of female singers refused to cover the song because of its suggestive lyrics. 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”.
Since I started working with people's most prominent problems as a counsellor in the seventies and since, as a friend or in some other capacity, I have found the problems of loss and loneliness to be some of the most intractable to deal with and resolve. Bereaved spouses struggling to re-adapt to life living alone, husbands and wives who have divorced and lovers who have parted can all experience emotional unbalance that sends their thoughts and moods haywire. Men and women who have never had a partner to call ‘their own’, wishing and wanting a soul mate to love, also find nighttime the most difficult part of the day.
The same is true about situations where people suffer severe pain both night and day with arthritis, bad backs and other debilitating conditions which interrupt sleeping patterns; especially if they happen to be in the more unfamiliar surroundings of a hospital ward instead of in their own bed at home. Many in the hospital facing life-threatening operations or being treated for terminal illnesses also fit into this group.
And the time that is the hardest of all to cope with, is in the dark hours of the night when one is lying in bed alone, unable to sleep. I will never forget how pain stole three months of nighttime sleep from me at the age of 12 years, following a bad accident when I was run over by a wagon and left with multiple and severe life-threatening injuries, I was to experience excruciating pain and was unable to walk for three years.
For nine months I was a hospital patient in the old Batley Hospital, and for the first three months, I never got one minute’s sleep during the night. I will never forget lying in my bed wide awake while all around me the rest of the ward slept soundly. For three months, I prayed for the morning curtains to be drawn and the ward to come alive again when the medicine round woke up the sleepers around 6:00 am. Having lain awake for eight or nine hours listening to nought but groaning, coughing, farting and snoring, when the rest of the ward woke up to face a new day, that was when I fell asleep until lunchtime or after.
And yet, I know that however much pain and sleep loss that broken and aching limbs can cause, it is nothing compared to the pain that plagues a broken heart and torment of an unsettled mind experiencing the emotional turmoil of separation, loss and bereavement during its nightly haunt.
I know of so many people today who find it hard ‘To Make it Through the Night’.
Love and peace Bill xxx