Who would’ve thought that the song George Jones first came to hate would actually mark the revival of his career and open new doors of opportunities for him?

During his time, the late George Jones was an astonishing singer, songwriter, and musician. His long list of exceptional songs and his unique vocal gift led him to earn international acclaim. He was best known for the songs White Lightning, She Thinks I Still Care, Why Baby Why, The Race is On, and The Window Up Above. But out of all the beautiful and stirring songs he released, He Stopped Loving Her Today proved to be a real standout.

Firstly, several surveys and critics have dubbed the song as the Greatest Country Song of All-Time a few weeks after its initial release in 1980. It was positively welcomed and received by listeners all over the globe, consequently delivering the success of Jones’ album, I Am What I Am.

The song was George Jones’ first single to hit no. 1 in six years. Within those six years, George struggled to create music that will wow the audience and prove his worth in the industry to all his naysayers and biggest critics. Renowned music reviewers were just about to ready to write him off, too. As if to spread a miracle, Jones’ took his career to a 180-degree turn through He Stopped Loving Her Today. Co-written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, the lyrics represent the story of a friend who has never given up on his love for his partner. Even after the woman left, the man continues to keep the old letters and pictures they’ve exchanged and shared with each other—a symbolism of how he clung to the hope that she will one day return once again.

In a sad turn of events, the chorus reveals the heartbreaking ending where the man passed away. His ex-lover did come back, and the last time they ever crossed paths again was at his funeral. Due to the song’s heavy, tear-jerking theme, Jones had to make sure his interpretation breathed the realistic and painfully relatable feel to the music. His distinctive musical style blended well with the song, as it remained in the Country Chart’s number one spot for 18 weeks. After the success of He Stopped Loving Her Today, Jones’ contract with CBS records was renewed, and all eyes were on him once again. The renowned singer won the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in the years 1980 and 1981.

You can listen to the wonderfully bittersweet hit love song here: