The real story behind George Jones’, “He Stopped Loving Her Today”

By on September 6, 2023

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He stopped loving her today. That’s the title of one of the most iconic country songs ever written, performed by the legendary George Jones. But do you know the real story behind the song? How did Jones come up with such a heartbreaking and powerful tune? And what did it mean for his own troubled love life?

In this blog post, I will reveal the true story behind “He stopped loving her today”, based on interviews, biographies and historical records. I will also explore how the song affected Jones’ career, his relationship with Tammy Wynette, and his legacy as a country music icon.

The song was written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, two Nashville songwriters who had worked with Jones before. They were inspired by a phrase that Braddock had heard from a friend: “He’ll only stop loving her when he dies”. They thought it was a perfect hook for a country song, and they started to craft a story around it.

The story they came up with was about a man who never gave up on his love for a woman who left him long ago. He kept her letters, her pictures and her old clothes in his house, hoping that she would come back someday. He told his friends that he still loved her, even though they thought he was crazy. And then, one day, he died. And that’s when she came back, to visit his funeral. And that’s when he stopped loving her.

Braddock and Putman pitched the song to Jones’ producer, Billy Sherrill, who loved it and thought it was perfect for Jones. But Jones himself was not so enthusiastic. He thought the song was too morbid and depressing, and he didn’t like the spoken word part in the middle. He tried to avoid recording it, but Sherrill insisted. He told Jones that it would be a hit, and that it would revive his declining career.

Jones reluctantly agreed to record the song, but he still didn’t like it. He thought it was too hard to sing, and he struggled to get through it without breaking down. He later said that he had to drink a lot of whiskey to numb his emotions. He also said that he hated the song so much that he threw up after recording it. He told Sherrill that “Nobody will buy that morbid son of a bitch.”

But Sherrill was right. The song was a huge hit. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in July 1980, and stayed there for 18 weeks. It also crossed over to the pop charts, reaching number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. It won several awards, including two Grammys, and was named the greatest country song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.

GeorgeTammy Hubert Long Agency, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The song also had a profound impact on Jones’ personal life. It reminded him of his own failed marriage with Tammy Wynette, whom he had divorced in 1975 after years of turmoil and abuse. He still loved her, and he hoped that they would get back together someday. But she had moved on, and married another man.

When Jones heard that “the woman” was coming to his funeral in the song, he broke down in tears. He later said that he felt like he was singing his own eulogy. He also said that he realized that he had to stop living in the past, and start living in the present.

He stopped loving her today. But he never stopped loving Tammy Wynette.

Jones and Wynette remained friends until her death in 1998. They even recorded a few duets together after their divorce, including “Two Story House” and “Golden Ring”. Jones died in 2013, at the age of 81. He was buried next to Wynette at Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashville.

He stopped loving her today. But we never stopped loving him.

He said “I’ll love you till I die”,

She told him “You’ll forget in time”

As the years went slowly by,

She still preyed upon his mind

He kept her picture on his wall,

Went half-crazy now and then

He still loved her through it all,

Hoping she’d come back again

Kept some letters by his bed

Dated nineteen sixty-two

He had underlined in red

Every single “I love you”

I went to see him just today,

Oh but I didn’t see no tears

All dressed up to go away,

First time I’d seen him smile in years

He stopped loving her today

They placed a wreath upon his door

And soon they’ll carry him away

He stopped loving her today

You know, she came to see him one last time

Aww, and we all wondered if she would

And it kept runnin’ through my mind

“This time he’s over her for good”

He stopped loving her today

They placed a wreath upon his door

And soon they’ll carry him away

He stopped loving her today

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