On January 16, Connie Smith’s “Once a Day” ends its eight-week run at the top of the country chart, the record for a female artist until 2012.
“Once a Day” is a song written by Bill Anderson and recorded as the debut single by American country artist Connie Smith. It was produced by Bob Ferguson for her self-titled debut album. The song was released in August 1964, topping the Billboard country music chart for eight weeks between late 1964 and early 1965. It was the first debut single by a female country artist to reach number one, and held the record for the most weeks spent at number one by a female country artist until it was surpassed by Taylor Swift‘s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” in December 2012.
This song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart for the week of November 28, 1964, and it stayed at number one for eight consecutive weeks.
Background and content
“Once a Day” was written by American country artist, Bill Anderson, especially for Connie Smith. Originally recorded by Smith as a demo, the song was officially recorded at her first session with RCA Victor Records on July 16, 1964 at Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. Produced by Bob Ferguson, the session was accompanied by Nashville’s “A-Team” of musicians, which included members of Anderson’s touring band, The Po’ Boys. The song itself describes a woman who has not gotten over her previous lover. Although the woman explains that she has limited her grieving to “once a day,” it is later found out that she is grieving, “once a day, every day, all day long.” The song’s chorus is repeated twice throughout the song and goes as follows:
- Once a day, all day long
- And once a night, from dusk till dawn
- The only time I wish you weren’t gone
- Is once a day, every day, all day long
While also singing lead vocals on “Once a Day,” Smith was also featured playing the song’s guitar accompaniment. The song was re-recorded by Smith in French and was re-titled, “Pas Souvent.” That year the song was released as a single to France, and was released seven years later on Smith’s compilation, Love Is the Look You’re Looking for in 1973. It was re-recorded for a third time for her 1976 studio album, The Song We Fell in Love To on Columbia Records.
“Once a Day” was released as Connie Smith’s debut single under RCA Victor Records. It was rush-released as a single August 1, 1964, and moved quickly up the country music chart. The song became Smith’s commercial breakthrough recording, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Songs chart the week of November 28, and remaining at the top spot for eight weeks until January 16, 1965. This longevity record stood unmatched until December 2012, when “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift overtook the achievement with nine weeks at No. 1.
Smith previously held the record of being the first debut single by a female to reach No. 1, until Trisha Yearwood broke Smith’s record in 1991 with, “She’s in Love with the Boy.” After it reached No. 1, “Once a Day” became one of the year’s biggest songs and was nominated for Best Country Song from the Grammy Awards.
“Once a Day” made Smith a major star in country music, nominating her for a series of Grammy Awards, including Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best New Country Artist. It was released on Smith’s self-titled debut album in March 1965, which also reached No. 1. The single helped gain Smith a series of major hits under RCA Victor in the 1960s. Her follow-up single, “Then and Only Then” (released in 1965) reached No. 4 on the Billboard Country Chart, and a series of unbated Top 10 hits continued until mid-1968, including “If I Talk to Him,” “Ain’t Had No Lovin’,” and “The Hurtin’s All Over.” Smith would continue on to have nineteen more Top 10 singles during her career.