Music Monday: He Stopped Loving Her Today

Today's installment of Music Monday takes us all the way back to 1980 and behind-the-scenes of the making of the George Jones classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today. 

When Jones recorded “He Stopped Loving Her Today” more than thirty years ago, he was a walking disaster. Twin addictions to drugs and alcohol had him drinking Jim Beam by the case and snorting cocaine as long as he was awake. Before it was over, Jones would be bankrupt, homeless, and an unwilling patient at an Alabama mental institution.

In the midst of all this chaos, legendary producer Billy Sherrill—the man who discovered Tammy Wynette and co-wrote “Stand by Your Man”—would somehow coax the performance of a lifetime out of the mercurial Jones. The result was a country masterpiece.

In He Stopped Loving Her Today: George Jones, Billy Sherrill, and the Pretty-Much Totally True Story of the Making of the Greatest Country Record of all Time author Jack Isenhour captures the writing, recording, reception, and durability of a single song that is widely regarded by critics and fans as the best country song ever. 

When asked what makes “He Stopped Loving Her Today” a great country song, Isenhour responded definitively, "It has everything. Eternal love gone wrong. Death. George Jones’s voice. Billy Sherrill’s production style, and a healthy dose of steel guitar."

Wynette, Jones, and Billy Sherill in the studio
And the story behind the making of the song offers an overview of country music’s origins and a search for the music’s illusive Holy Grail: authenticity. Although Jones himself would proclaim the finished song “too morbid”, the single was on the charts for eighteen weeks eventually making it to number one proving that the song walked a fine line between heart-wrenching and maudlin. 

He Stopped Loving Her Today is the only biography to delve deeply into the story behind the making and success of “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Isenhour examines the heights and depths—both riveting—of Jones’s career and delves into the relationships that swirled around Jones as he created his greatest hit, including Tammy Wynette, his on-again, off-again lover.