With mournful melodies that tugged the hearts of millions, George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is undoubtedly one of country music’s biggest hits. In fact, it was also the song that saved Jones’ career.
The song was Jones’ first solo No. 1 single in six years. It earned him awards and brought him back to the top.
However, Jones’s initial faith in the song wasn’t always present.
The hit song was written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, and when Jones’ producer, Billy Sherrill, introduced the song to him in 1978, Jones hated it.
He thought no one would ever want to play the melancholy song. He was clearly mistaken, but why did he hate the song so much?
Perhaps the song hit too close to home for the country singer. In 1980, substance abuse wrecked his professional and personal life. And with the song revolving around love so powerful that only death can end it, Jones thought the song was too long and depressing.
Eventually, after two years, Jones and Sherrill went on to record the song. But still, on the mend from his addiction, Jones had a difficult time performing the entire song.
Fortunately, Sherrill was able to piece together portions of Jones’ many recordings and bathed the song with technique and flair that birthed life right into it.
The results were magnanimous. Jones received a Grammy for “Best Male Country Vocal Performance,” and the song won CMA “Song of the Year” for two years straight.
As Jones puts it, “a four-decade career was salvaged by a three-minute song.” In other words, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was able to single-handedly save George Jones’ career.
Listen to George Jones‘ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” below.