Very often referred to as the greatest country song in history, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” not only transformed George Jones’ career, but also country music itself. Launched as the first single from his album I Am What I Am in 1980, this song became one of Jones’s trademark hits.
The song became the CMA’s Song of the Year for 1980 and 1981. It also won the ACM Single and Song of the Year in 1980, and was picked for preservation in the National Recording Registry. The moment it got released, this song became a hit #1. It reentered the charts for the second time after Jones’ death in 2013. However, that time the song fell a little short of the Top 20, only reaching the 21st spot on the charts.
Composed by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, the song conveys the story of a man who refused to give up on his woman. He keeps on loving her, proclaiming that he will never ever stop. However, in the end, he does stop loving her… when he dies.
The first time Jones heard this gloomy tune, he was not keen on it. Time won him over, though, and he later thanked the song for saving his career. At the time of “He Stopped Loving Her Today’s” premier, Jones hadn’t had a #1 hit in about six years. Just when folks were beginning to doubt his relevance, Jones made a remarkable come back.
Because “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is indeed an iconic song, it has been covered a number of times. Alan Jackson did a fascinating version of the song during Jones’ memorial service. A couple of months later, he and George Strait sang the song as a homage to Jones during the CMA Awards.
Yet another legendary musician who had the courage to sing country’s greatest song was the one and only “Man in Black.” Presented during the 2003 box-set Unearthed, which was released a couple of months after Johnny Cash’s death, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is the sixth track on the third disc. According to the disc’s title, it contains “Redemption Songs.”
Cash’s raw, strong voice blends perfectly with the song, which definitely stands out on this record. Like most of the disc’s songs, Cash’s rendition of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is totally acoustic. By stripping the song right down to the bare bones, Cash created a version that focuses on the emotion of the lyrics through his one-of-a-kind voice.
While there’s absolutely no person who could equal Jones’ original version of the song, Cash really did an excellent job. Watch the video clip below and tell us what you think about his version in the comments!
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