“Every Once in a While”
Written by Henry Paul, Dave Robbins, and Van Stephenson
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
July 16, 1994
A pair of successful songwriters join an established lead singer to form a popular new band.
The Road to No. 1
BlackHawk was formed in 1991, following a solo attempt by founding member Van Stephenson and in the wake of several successful hit singles written by Stephenson and BlackHawk bandmate Dave Robbins. Many of those hits were co-written by Tim DuBois, who became president of Arista Nashville in the late eighties and later signed BlackHawk to the label. The band started hot, with their lead single “Goodbye Says it All” going top ten on the Radio & Records chart. Their second single went the distance.
The No. 1
This is one of the smarmier hits of the nineties, with the narrator casually assuming that the girl he left behind says she only thinks about him “every once in a while,” but is secretly pining for him all of the time.
“She’ll face the fact,” he ruminates, “She wants to go back.”
But oh, what a soaring chorus. Their harmonies are tight and high, bringing a bluegrass flavor to a very nineties country production. Part of their ace in the hole is Henry Paul’s mandolin, which freshened up country radio in 1994 the same way “Losing my Religion” did for pop radio three years earlier.
So they get away with the smarminess of the lyric, as their harmonies and musicianship linger for longer than the bitter condescension of the lyric.
The Road From No. 1
BlackHawk was a huge debut album, eventually selling in excess of two million copies. Three more top ten hits followed their first No. 1 single, all from their first set: “I Sure Can Smell the Rain,” “Down in Flames,” and “That’s Just About Right.” The band had a second and final No. 1 hit in 1995 with the lead single of their sophomore set.
“Every Once in a While” gets a B+.
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