Tyler Childers - Rustin' In The Rain Album Cover
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‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ by Tyler Childers - Lyrics & Meaning

September 8, 2023 11:01 pm GMT
Last Edited December 19, 2023 7:43 pm GMT

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Tyler Childers - ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’

Label: Hickman Holler Records / RCA Records

Release Date: September 8th, 2023

Album: Rustin’ in the Rain

Producers: Tyler Childers & The Food Stamps

Songwriter: Kris Kristofferson

The Background:

Originally released as part of his ground-breaking self-titled 1970 project, ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ remains one of Kris Kristofferson's most celebrated tracks to date.

The classic ballad is drenched in the evocative, heartfelt lyricism that defined that era of country music, with the vibrant, colourful imagery being underpinned by a sense of accessibility that pervaded much of The Highwayman's work.

Tyler Childers’ decision to cover the iconic track on his 2023 album, Rustin’ in the Rain, once again reiterates his desire to be considered a country artist, rather than an Americana act.

Similarly to his rendition of S.G. Goodman's ‘Space and Time’, he hugs closely to the original instrumentation and sonic texture of Kristofferson's version, which ensures the track feels comes across as a humble homage than an arrogant revamp.

The Sound:

‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ opens with a stripped-back, drawn-in accompaniment, putting Kristofferson's visceral, emotive imagery on full display.

As a result, the magic of Kristofferson's lyrics radiate through the opening verses, with Childers’ intricate vocals conveying a tangible sense of vulnerability and desperation.

The instrumentation is driven by the soft, intricate piano, with the intensity of the steel guitar and Childers' delivery building as he launches into the gut-wrenching confession, “I don't care who's right or wrong / And I don't need to understand”.

Although the ‘Lady May’ hitmaker always receives high praise for his songwriting ability, this cover of Kristofferson's ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ highlights Tyler Childers’ malleability and deftness when it comes to his singing style.

The Meaning:

“Take the ribbon from your hair
Shake it loose and let it fall
Dancin’ soft against my skin
Like the shadows on the wall”

The ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ lyrics explore an intimate evening spent between two lovers. Given the fact that many previous covers of Kristofferson's ballad have been deemed too controversial - including Sammi Smith's revered rendition - it feels pointed that Childers decided to include his own take on Rustin’ in the Rain.

He isn't afraid to challenge the country music status quo, as powerfully demonstrated through his music video for ‘In Your Love’ and previous records such as Long Violent History.

“Come and lay down by my side
Til the early mornin’ light
All I’m takin’ is your time
Oh help me make it through the night”

As Childers outlines how the evening unfolded, we repeatedly get a sense of how lonely the song's protagonist is. Beneath the romance, there's a feeling of isolation laced into each lyric.

“I don’t care who’s right or wrong
And I don’t need to understand
Let the Devil take tomorrow
‘Cause tonight I need a friend
Yesterday is dead and gone
And tomorrow’s out of sight
And it’s so sad to be alone
Oh help me make it through the night”

With the spiritually-tinged reference to the Devil in this verse, the track's protagonist accepts any unwanted and destructive consequences that might arise from the night's rendezvous.

He simply expresses his need for company, regardless of whether it is the best thing for him in the long-run. This once again accentuates the loneliness of the main character.

As well as outlining how he doesn't care what tomorrow's repercussions might be, the pessimistic admission that “Yesterday is dead and gone” exacerbates the vocalist's forlorn solitude.

In the context of Rustin’ in the Rain, ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ feels less despondent and more like the sequel to the album's title-track, where Childers details the passionate night that results from the unabashed pining that he opens the project with.

What have Tyler Childers and Kris Kristofferson said about ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’?

Although he hasn't spoken about ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ specifically, Tyler Childers delved into his perspective on classic country songwriters with NPR, of which Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard are two prime examples.

“Merle Haggard grew up dirt poor, working his tail off. And you can grow up like that, and work your way out of it and understand the weight of where you're at now. And you're never going to forget how hungry people are," he explained. "I think a lot of times now, if you look at the songwriters in country, where do they live?”

He went on to expand on this, “Nashville is an extremely necessary town; everybody's got to meet somewhere, and this is a heck of a meeting place. But there's this hard disconnect. The writers didn't necessarily grow up in a rural setting, but the nostalgia for that way of life resonates with them in some way. So they're working within these stereotypes of this nostalgia that they might not even have any reference point to understand”.

Childers concluded, “My mom loved me to death, and my dad worked his tail off. I didn't want for nothing. But it came at a price. Time away from family - they worked very hard to take care of us. They instilled in me to work and understand the weight of that. I grew up in that community. And then I lived in that community”.

Kristofferson outlined a number of times that ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ was inspired by an Esquire Magazine interview with Frank Sinatra, during which the legendary crooner quipped when asked what he put his faith in, “Booze, broads, or a bible...whatever helps me make it through the night”.

For the full lyrics to Tyler Childers’ ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’, see below:

“Take the ribbon from your hair
Shake it loose and let it fall
Dancin’ soft against my skin
Like the shadows on the wall

Come and lay down by my side
Til the early mornin’ light
All I’m takin’ is your time
Oh help me make it through the night

I don’t care who’s right or wrong
And I don’t need to understand
Let the Devil take tomorrow
‘Cause tonight I need a friend

Yesterday is dead and gone
And tomorrow’s out of sight
And it’s so sad to be alone
Oh help me make it through the night

I don’t care who’s right or wrong
And I don’t need to understand
Let the devil take tomorrow
Cause tonight I need a friend

Yesterday is dead and gone
And tomorrow’s out of sight
And it’s so sad to be alone
Oh help me make it through the night”

For more on Tyler Childers, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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