“He Stopped Loving Her Today”
Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman
Radio & Records
#1 (2 weeks)
June 20 – June 27, 1980
#1 (1 week)
July 5, 1980
After “Two Story House,” George Jones was well positioned for a solo comeback hit, and he took advantage of that opportunity by releasing one of the greatest country singles in history.
Much has already been written about “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” a song that I first sought out because it was ranked No. 1 on some “Greatest Country Singles of All Time” list published in the nineties. It was a huge seller and got Jones his first major awards recognition as a solo artist, earning him a Grammy and multiple CMA and ACM Awards, while also powering its parent album to platinum. The weight of history is heavy here.
But strip all of that away, and you just have a damn good song that Jones sings the ever loving hell out of. Producer Billy Sherrill’s use of dramatic strings, honed so well in support of amplifying the fragile power vocals of Tammy Wynette, provide the perfect foil here for Jones’ purely traditional vocals. Even in 1980, this kind of string-heavy Nashville Sound record was a bit of an anachronism. Because of the song’s subject matter, it still worked, right down to the angelic background vocals that transport you right to the side of the casket as “she came to see him one last time.”
Jones always had a flair for the dramatic, and with “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” he made one of his most cinematic records, up there with classics like “A Good Year For the Roses” and “The Grand Tour,” the latter of which we’ll cover when we get to the seventies. George Jones at his best is about as good as country music gets, and this is him at his best.
He followed it with two more hits from its parent album, I Am What I Am: the top five “I’m Not Ready Yet” and the top ten “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will.)” We’ll see him again in 1981 with the lead single from his next album.
“He Stopped Loving Her Today” gets an A.
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