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April 26

Why today? Smith’s recording, probably the best-known version of Kris Kristofferson’s expression of intimate longing, went gold on this date 39 years ago — her only single to reach the 500,000 sales mark.

About the record: Mega 615-0015, recorded spring 1970 in Nashville. Released early 1971, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard country chart and No. 8 on the pop chart. First appeared on Help Me Make It Through The Night, Mega M31-1000, released September 1970. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard country album chart and No. 33 on the pop album chart.

This was the career record for the late Sammi Smith, the California-born singer with the husky voice. Authors David Cantwell and Bill Friskics-Warren selected “Help Me Make It Through The Night” as the pinnacle in their book, Heartaches by the Number: Country Music’s 500 Greatest Singles. Check out the Amazon.com preview of that listing (linked here in Part 1, Parts 2 and 4, and Part 3).

About the artist: Sandra Brennan sums up Smith’s career at Allmusic.com.

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