The Song That Brought Life Back to George Jones’ Career in Spite of Himself

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It seems that despite his own best efforts, George Jones’ epic song “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” brought him back to stardom like no other song in his repertoire had done before. Down and out in the country music industry is no place any singer wants to be, but as the year 1980 began, that’s where Jones found himself. By the end of that same year, however, he would be larger than life once again, thanks to this very unique song.

Born in Saratoga, Texas, in 1931, Jones was later raised in Colmesneil along with six siblings. His father played harmonica and guitar, while his mother played piano in church on Sundays. He first heard country music at the age of seven when his parents first bought a radio. He would listen to the Grand Ole Opry show, waiting to hear Bill Monroe or Roy Acuff, and asked his mom to wake him if he fell asleep during the program. His upbringing was far from calm, however, and in his teen years, he moved to Jasper, Texas, where he sang and played on the local radio station. He went on to work and play at other Texas stations before earning his first hit in 1955 with “Why Baby Why.”

He went on to score a string of classic country hits throughout the rest of that decade, into the ’60s and early ’70s, including “The Race Is On” and “She Thinks I Still Care.” But into the mid-1970s, his drug and alcohol abuse were taking their toll, and together with his string of failed marriages and a proclivity for missing shows, were wreaking havoc on his career. At that point in time, he was widely thought to be a has-been in the industry.

But, all of that changed when he released “He Stopped Loving Her Today” in the spring of 1980. The woeful tale of a man that maintains his vow until death to love a lady that had left him was poignant, to say the least. Married with a harmonious string arrangement and a brilliant vocal performance by Jones, the song went to the top of the country charts and stayed there for an unheard-of 18 weeks, making it the signature song of his career. Shared on the GuriMalla2010 YouTube channel, this live performance of the song can give its listener the chills.

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