Behind The Song: George Jones, “He Stopped Loving Her Today”

This article appears in our upcoming May/June “country” issue. Subscribe here. (Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman) There’s an old cliché that says country music is mostly comprised of three chords and the truth. There’s also a generalization that says country music is, on the whole, unremittingly sad. Needless to say, those are broad descriptions that limit the scope of a type of music that encompasses many different musical strategies and is capable of conveying the full range of the emotional spectrum. Yet there is no doubt that “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” the 1980 masterpiece by George Jones, does indeed adhere to those clichés, even as it finds a way to transcend them. After all, the song is pretty much just three chords. (Technically, there are six, but that’s only because of the key change.) The truth can be found in Jones’ stunning performance, a vocal for the ages. And the song itself, composed by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, contains the sadness, which was then amplified to majestic proportions by the production of Billy Sherrill. All of those disparate elements and unique personalities meshed to create this one-of-a-kind recording from 1980. The accolades for the song were immediate,…

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