Greatest Country Song: He Stopped Loving Her Today

A conversation with a friend reminded me of the George Jones classic, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”  That got me poking around the web a bit.

I didn’t start listening to country music seriously until 1986 or so, and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” just seemed like one of those songs that had been around forever. All this time, I’ve just assumed it dated to the 1960s or early 1970s.  It has such a classic sound.

Actually, it dates from 1982, and Jones recorded the song even though he believed it too sad to ever become a hit (Wikipedia).

Many people believe, as I do, that it is the greatest country song ever.  It’s also a song, I believe, that nobody will ever sing as well as George Jones.

Here’s the video.

8 thoughts on “Greatest Country Song: He Stopped Loving Her Today

  1. Great song, although I’m not sure it’s Jones’s best. Nice video. The music appears to have been piped in, but at least he wasn’t lip-syncing.

    “We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds,” “Walk Through This World with Me,” “A Good Year for the Roses,” “These Days (I Barely Get By),” “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me” … man.

  2. I love the votes for alternative choices.

    Dan, I think I heard some variations in the vocals that made me think it wasn’t the studio version (lip synch’d). There’s another version on YT, but I didn’t like the way the standard format was stretched to fit wide aspect.

  3. I’m with Howard.

    I hated — HATED — country music as a child. But when I hit college in central Pennsylvania, the only way an amateur drummer could make some money was to play country. So I held my nose and played.

    I still think quite a bit of country music is either hokey beyond words (“Elvira”, anyone? “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”?) or so overproduced there’s nothing left to enjoy.

    But I find myself humming (off-key; I’m a drummer, after all) “He Stopped Loving Her Today” along with some simple but profound lyrics from John Anderson and Merle Haggard all the time.

  4. Howard: He absolutely wasn’t lip-syncing — his vocal is quite different from the record. But the backing sounds identical. An amazing artist.

  5. I grew up with my grandfather and dad listening to a lot of those old country songs from the greats like Jones, Haggard, Nelson, Cash, Jennings and the like. I didn’t appreciate them at the time (preferring punk rock), but grew to love them later in life. And, FWIW, I’m not sure I’d pick HSLHT as the “greatest,” but it’s definitely in the top 5.

  6. If not the best country song, certainly in the finalists. I have a warm memory of hearing this for the first time while DJing late at night on a country music station in NZ with possums scurrying about outside and not much else. This, and Emmmy Lou Harris singing Hickory Wind.

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