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"He Stopped Loving Her Today" is the title of a song recorded by American country music artist George Jones that has been named in several surveys as the greatest country song of all time. It was released in April 1980 as the lead single from the album I Am What I Am. The song was Jones's first No. 1 single in six years. The melancholy song was written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman. The week after Jones's death the song re-entered the hot country songs at number 21.

Alan Jackson covered this song during George Jones' funeral service on May 2, 2013.

Content[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The singer tells the story of a friend who has never given up on his love. He keeps old letters and photos from back in the day, and hangs on to hope that she would "come back again." The song reaches its peak in the chorus, revealing that he indeed stopped loving her – when he passed away. She attends his funeral.

Recording[edit source | editbeta]Edit

According to producer Billy Sherrill and Jones himself, the singer did not like the song when he first heard it. In Bob Allen's biography George Jones: The Life and Times of a Honky Tonk Legend, Sherrill states "he thought it was too long, too sad, too depressing and that nobody would ever play it...He hated the melody and wouldn't learn it." Sherrill also claims that Jones frustrated him by continually singing the song to the melody of the Kris Kristofferson hit "Help Me Make It Through the Night". In the 1989 video documentary Same Ole Me, Sherrill recalls a heated exchange during one recording session: "I said 'That's not the melody!' and he said 'Yeah, but it's a better melody.' I said 'It might be - Kristofferson would think so too, it's his melody!'" In the same documentary, Sherrill claims that Jones was in such bad physical shape during this period that "the recitation was recorded 18 months after the first verse was" and added that the last words Jones said about "He Stopped Loving Her Today" was "Nobody'll buy that morbid son of a bitch".

Awards[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Though Jones had hated "He Stopped Loving Her Today" when it was first offered to him, he ultimately gave the song credit for reviving his flagging career, stating that "a four-decade career had been salvaged by a three-minute song." Jones earned the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1980. The Academy of Country Music awarded the song Single of the Year and Song of the Year in 1980. It also became the Country Music Association's Song of the Year in both 1980 and 1981.

Chart performance[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1980) Peak

position

U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 2
Chart (2013) Peak

position

US Country Songs (Billboard) 21