22 September 2019

"He Stopped Loving Her Today" - George Jones

I understand that not everyone likes country music - at least not when they're sober.  But this is a classic that I've just added to a CD of favorite music.  The most extensive discussion of the artist and the song I could find was at Mix:
Born in 1931 in Saratoga, Texas, Jones was the youngest of eight children. During the Depression, his family was the kind of poor that no one born post-World War II can really imagine... In the late '60s, Jones met and fell in love with Tammy Wynette, who also became his third wife... By the time he met Wynette, Jones already had a serious drinking problem...

“In the 1970s, I was drunk the majority of the time,” Jones writes. “I had drunk heavily for years and had pitched benders that might last two or three days, but in the 1970s, I was drunk the majority of the time for half a decade... By the end of the decade, Jones was psychologically and physically a shadow of his former self; he was broke and alone, and his pitiable condition was being perpetuated by managers and pushers who were living off of what was left of him. It took a career record... to help Jones begin to climb out of that hole...

One thing kind of funny about it was that the melody was so close to ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night’ [by Kris Kristofferson] that George kept singing the melody to ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night.’ He couldn't get that out of his head. That gave him a bit of a problem early on, and they took their time to get the narration just right.”...

The narration part of the song consists of four lines Jones speaks rather than sings: “She came to see him one last time/And we all wondered if she would/And it kept running through my mind/This time he's over her for good.” “Pretty simple, eh?” Jones asks in his book. “I couldn't get it. I had been able to sing while drunk all of my life. I'd fooled millions of people. But I could never speak without slurring when drunk. What we needed to complete that song was the narration, but Billy could never catch me sober enough to record four simple spoken lines. It took us about 18 months to record a song that was approximately three-minutes long.”...

“I went from a twenty-five-hundred-dollar act who promoters feared wouldn't show up to an act who earned twenty-five thousand dollars, plus a percentage of the gate receipts. That was big money for a country artist 16 years ago… To put it simply, I was back on top. Just that quickly. I don't want to belabor this comparison, but a four-decade career had been salvaged by a three-minute song.”

“He Stopped Loving Her Today” earned Jones a Grammy Award for Best Country Male Performance in 1980. It also resulted in CMA Awards for Best Male Vocalist of the Year in 1980 and 1981, and it was the Academy of Country Music Single of the Year and Song of the Year in 1980.
Reposted from 2012 to commemorate George Jones' death today at age 82.  And reposted again from 2013 because it's still one of my favorite songs.


  1. That song brings tears to my eyes every single time I hear it...

  2. Truly one of the best songs of any genre ever.

    I remember working my way through college as a disc jockey at a little country station, and from time to time that song would come up on the rotation. On a particularly quiet night, after playing that song, the phone range. It was what sounded like an elderly lady, in tears, who simply said "Thank you. Oh, thank you for playing that!"

    I'll never forget that call. Thanks for the song, George, and to you, Minnesotastan, for remembering the impact of a simple three-minute tune.

  3. Growing up poor isn't really a great excuse for a decade of drinking, but it can lead to some good music.

  4. Megan: Different era and mind-set. I am not justifying it so much as giving context. This is an era when drinking with lunch was normal. Driving under the influence was usually reduced to reckless driving. It is the era in which Mad Men was set. I knew people who were older than I who were successful salesmen whom I do not believe I had ever seen when they were sober.

  5. Too bad this (he stopped loving her today) is the only song folks remember..... many others were just as good if not better.

  6. This is certainly the song that best reveals George Jones's thrillingly subtle and expressive singing style, and definitely my favorite, although I do wish it was longer. The Window Up Above is pretty great, too.

  7. Same theme, I think better song (production values got better over past 35 years) - Whiskey Lullaby by Brad Paisley and Allison Krause - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZbN_nmxAGk Song actually starts at 2:20, first part of video is back story


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