When George Jones and Tammy Wynette came together for the “Golden Ring” duet, music fans all over the world can’t help but be thrilled.
It’s a known fact that country music has given birth to some of the most iconic couples, but perhaps one of the biggest and most explosive couples to ever come about was George Jones and Tammy Wynette.
While their marriage came to an end after five years, the union between the two respected singers gave country music some of the most beloved duets, including “Near You,” “We’re Gonna Hold On,” and, of course, the iconic “Golden Ring.”
Just like many of the duets the two recorded while they were still husband and wife, “Golden Ring” resonated with an authentic sense of romantic tragedy that was hauntingly comparable to the real-life timbre of their tumultuous, on-again-off-again love affair. Released in May 1976, fourteen months after their real-life divorce, “Golden Ring” became the second George Jones-Tammy Wynette duet to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
But George Jones later addressed his team up with Wynette in his 1996 memoir. He insisted, “That wasn’t my idea. In fact, I hated to work with her. It brought back too many unpleasant memories, and when some fans saw us together, they got it in their heads that we were going to get back together romantically.”
However, the two would record again at various times throughout the rest of the decade. Jones and Wynette recorded “Golden Ring” once again for Jones’s album The Bradley Barn Sessions in 1994 – an album composed of re-recordings of Jones’s material in duet form. Another recording of the song was for their final album together, One, released in 1995.
The Tale of A Golden Ring
Written by Songwriters Rafe Vanhoy and Bobby Braddock, “Golden Ring” was a song about a golden wedding ring which witnessed a couple’s love, marriage, and divorce before it ended up back at the pawnshop where it originally belonged.
Braddock was inspired by a drama about the life of a handgun and its various owners – from a hunter, police officer, criminal, and a father of a two-year-old child – owning the gun at one point, and there were consequences played out in each segment. Braddock applied the idea to this song.
“Golden Ring” tells the tale of a young couple from Chicago who is very much in love. The two went to a pawnshop to shop for a wedding ring and married in a small chapel later that afternoon. However, in the song’s third verse, the couple has been fighting, and the marriage was clearly in trouble. Shortly afterward, the woman told her husband that she no longer loved him, threw the ring down, and left. The ring, once again in a pawn shop by itself, waiting for its next owners.
“Golden ring with one tiny little stone. Cast aside like the love that’s dead and gone. By itself, it’s just a cold metallic thing. Only love can make a golden wedding ring,” the song goes.
Nobody Could Relate To “Golden Ring” As Much As Jones And Wynette Could
“Golden Ring” is perhaps the one most closely identified with Jones and Wynette, whose troubled marriage had ended in bitter recrimination. Two years after their divorce in 1974, the old friends took the stage, reunited for a performance of “Golden Ring.” Jones even changed one peculiar line of the song for the occasion.
“Tammy said ‘One thing’s for certain,” Jones sang to a blushing Wynette. “‘I don’t love you anymore.'”
You can watch their performance of “Golden Ring” in the video below.