Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Tim McGraw, “One of These Days”

“One of These Days”

Tim McGraw

Written by Marcus Hummon, Monty Powell, and Kip Raines

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 29, 1998

Tim McGraw’s fourth consecutive No. 1 single is all self-flagellation and delayed salvation.

The Road to No. 1

Everywhere already produced three No. 1 hits with its first three singles: “It’s Your Love,” the title track, and “Just to See You Smile.”  The fourth No. 1 single from the album is the only one to miss the top spot on the Billboard chart.

The No. 1

This was where I was supposed to write something about how this ballad was a step or two below the rest of the singles from Everywhere.

It’s funny how time changes your perception of things.  In 1998, I would’ve written that this ballad tried a bit too hard and how “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” hit all the right emotional beats.

In 2022, I simply cannot believe that a mainstream country artist recorded this song, let alone had a No. 1 hit with it.

“One of These Days” is an exercise in self-loathing, as the narrator is completely candid about being a genuinely horrible person over the years.  He mercilessly bullies a fellow student who ends up running away from home (“He was different. He wasn’t cool like me.”)  He breaks the heart of a beautiful girl who truly loves him. (“At seventeen you only want one thing. I left her standing with my high school ring.  Innocent tears in the pouring rain as I walked away.”)

He’s haunted by these ghosts of his past, showing up as the living embodiments of his guilty conscience.  They persist in his memory, and deliver the same message: “One of these days you’re gonna love me. You’ll sit down by yourself and think” about “what good friends we might’ve been. Then you’re gonna sigh a little and maybe even cry a little.”

He’s processing all of these things as the preacher in his church is promising forgiveness, but he’s too filled with regret and shame to deem himself worthy of it.  Instead, he allows himself a sliver of hope that “One of these days I’m gonna love me, and feel the joy of sweet release.  One of these days I’ll rise above me, and at last I’ll find some peace.”

How he envisions that salvation is so desperately sad.  “I’m gonna smile a little and maybe even laugh a little.”  This is man in a very dark place who has not forgiven himself, but maybe he will someday.

It’s so much more powerful than being born again and giving yourself a clean slate, which can be a convenient way to evade accountability for the damage you’ve done up until that point.

And this is one of his lesser singles from this album?  Damn.

The Road From No. 1

Another stone cold classic is up next from Everywhere.  We’ll get to it very soon, as we are now in the era of very long Billboard No. 1 runs.

“One of These Days” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Steve Wariner, “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” |

Next: George Strait, “I Just Want to Dance With You”



  1. Yeah I’ve always loved this one even though it feels like it should be treacly. Wildly it seems even more relevant to 2022 than 1998.

  2. This is one of those songs that makes the listener uncomfortable. You can touch McGraw’s inner turmoil and remorse as he wrestles with wanting to be a better person. Another example of pretty heavy and mature subject matter still coming out of Nashville yet. For these reasons, this song always stood out for me as a historically significant McGraw moment.

  3. Your comment “It’s funny how time changes your perception of things” is spot-on for this one. I never cared for this song when I was 15 during its initial chart run. Listening to it as a 40-year-old man it hits totally different. It’s stunningly beautiful. It works because there are no easy answers and it doesn’t try to pretend that there are. I’m so glad that I re-listened to this song as part of this feature. I may have a new favorite Tim McGraw song.

  4. This song is simply beautiful and stunning from start to finish, and I still regard it as one of McGraw’s very best singles along with “Everywhere” and “Just To See You Smile.” Dang, what a heck of a trio of singles this was! I also can’t believe that it was only in 1998 that you could still get such deep and meaningful songs like this from a young male superstar on the radio AND have it reach the top. As I’ve politely asked many times already, can I please have a time machine?

    Once again, McGraw shows here just how much he had grown and matured as a singer in such a short time. Listening to him here and then going to anything off the Not A Moment Too Soon album is like hearing two different artists. I just love his soothing vocal delivery on this track that doesn’t get in the way of the song, and he hits all the right emotions in each lyric, verse, and chorus. Each time he sings the final chorus saying “One of these days, I’m gonna love me,” it still gives me chills every time. I always took that last chorus as a double meaning in that one of these days he’ll forgive himself for his past wrong doings, and that one of these days he’ll finally love himself, meaning that he treated those people in his past terribly because he always hated himself. Either way, it’s a heck of an emotional ending to an already great song. Also, as with these other Everywhere singles, it features yet more great steel playing from Sonny Garrish, and I really love the sound of that moaning fiddle in the second chorus, which reminds me of the fiddle in Clint Black’s “Something That We Do.”

    When I first heard it in the early Spring of 1998, I definitely noticed right away that this was something a bit different from McGraw, and that it was hitting a lot deeper than what I’d heard from him up to that point. The first verse about the red headed boy being bullied by the narrator stood out to me the most back then because I was a student myself in the 6th grade, and while I luckily wasn’t dealing with all that much bullying that year (6th and 7th grade were two of my personal best school years, not only grade wise, but also because I wasn’t picked on as much), I did know a kid at my school who did regularly get picked on. In fact, a little while after that, this song immediately came to mind one day in school when I saw that boy being pushed to the ground by one of his enemies and nearly got into a fight with him, but he stayed down, visibly humiliated while a bunch of other students watched. I felt bad for him, and I still feel bad for just standing by and watching it happen.

    Unfortunately, by 8th grade, 9th grade, and 10th grade especially, I’d know for myself what it’s like to be picked on, ridiculed, and bullied by others constantly. With me having social anxiety and possible mild autism, plus just being awkward and quiet, I was an easy target during those times. I still felt the effects of that long after high school, and it took me a while to learn to love and accept myself. Honestly, there are times I still struggle with that, especially after what Mom and I have been through the past few years, and how certain family members and other folks have treated us since losing my dad and step dad, but I’d like to think I’m better at “loving me” now than I’ve ever been.

    Anyway, back to my much happier memory in the early spring of 1998, the very first time I heard, “One Of These Days,” was on a very nice early Sunday afternoon when Dad was cleaning his car, and I was waiting in the backseat for Mom to come out before we headed to Fair Oaks Mall, in Fairfax, VA. Like I mentioned earlier, I noticed right away that it was definitely something different from Tim McGraw. It even came on again that night AFTER we left the mall. And on following trips to Fair Oaks, I remember it getting stuck in my head as I roamed around the mall. It’s still another song that makes me think of being Fair Oaks Mall every time it comes on, just like the last two McGraw singles. In particular, I always picture myself going up the escalator near the entrance with the big glass window ceiling and where Cheesecake Factory and Brio Italian Grille are located. Except back in 1998, Bennigan’s was where Cheesecake Factory is now and a nice little sandwich shop called Corner Baker Cafe was in the Brio location. :)

    I also remember hearing “One Of These Days” on it’s first few weeks on Chris Charles’ Weekly Country Countdown in early ’98. And later in the summer of that year, when my mom, step dad, and I flew to California, McGraw’s song was one of the first ones I heard on the plane’s country music playlist.

  5. YES, so good to finally see praise for this masterful song! It’s practically always made me cry, even when I was a little one. My favorite TM song, although he has other contenders for “best song” (such as…”Truck Yeah” lol). He just wrings the emotions out in all the right ways but the original version by Marcus Hummon is beautiful too and worth checking. Thanks, this is a great column!

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