There’s no debating that “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is one of, but probably the, saddest and best country songs of all time.
And in fact, it was so sad that George Jones didn’t even want to record it.
A co-write by by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, who also penned Tammy Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” producer Billy Sherrill liked the song enough to take it to Jones.
At the time, he was in a bad downward spiral in the wake of his divorce from Tammy in 1975 (mostly due to his drug and alcohol abuse problems), and he hadn’t had a hit song in six years, because his career was stalling because of everything going on in his personal life.
On top of that, he was beginning to fall out of love with playing country music, and was in a lot of debt due to his legal issues and battle with addiction. Needless to say, he was at a crossroads in both his career and life.
When George headed into CBS Studio B in Nashville to eventually record “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” they could never get it in one try, and actually wound up putting different bits of different takes together.
He had a hard time because, apparently, he was mixing up the melody with Kris Kristofferson’s hit “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” and also slurred his word during the spoken-word section, which was actually recorded 18 months from the first verse of the song.