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He Stopped Loving Her Today

One of the greatest baritone voices ever heard has been silenced.

He said I'll love you 'til I die
She told him you'll forget in time
As the years went slowly by
She still preyed upon his mind

He kept her picture on his wall
Went half crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all
Hoping she'd come back again

Kept some letters by his bed
Dated 1962
He had underlined in red
Every single I love you

I went to see him just today
Oh but I didn't see no tears
All dressed up to go away
First time I'd seen him smile in years

(Chorus)
He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they'll carry him away
He stopped loving her today

(Spoken)
You know she came to see him one last time
Oh and we all wondered if she would
And it kept running through my mind
This time he's over her for good

(Repeat Chorus)


I don't remember George Jones the way I did Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens, and Johnny Cash -- no specific "OMG" moments -- but it seems his voice was always there. I was surprised, reading the memorials and retrospectives, that "He Stopped Loving Her Today" was released in 1980. I remember having discussions with folks on country web boards, and while we always argued about who the greatest country singer was (Hank Williams? Johnny Cash? Hank Williams? Johnny Cash?), no one argued that this was, indeed, the greatest country song ever recorded, even if Hank and Johnny didn't do the recording. (In the end, everyone agreed Hank Williams was probably the most influential, but Johnny Cash had the longest and strongest overall career, so he won by a hair.)

And then George recorded this one in 1985:

You know this old world is full of singers
But just a few are chosen
To tear your heart out when they sing
Imagine life without them
All your radio heroes
Like the Outlaw that walks through Jesse's dreams

No, there'll never be another
Red-Headed Stranger
A Man in Black and Folsom Prison Blues
The Okie from Muskogee
Or Hello Darling
Lord I wonder, who's gonna fill their shoes

Who's gonna fill their shoes
Who's gonna stand that tall
Who's gonna play the Opry
And the Wabash Cannonball
Who's gonna give their heart and soul
To get to me and you
Lord I wonder, who's gonna fill their shoes

God bless the boys from Memphis
Blue Suede Shoes and Elvis
Much too soon he left this world in tears
They tore up the Fifties
Old Jerry Lee and Charlie
And "Go Cat Go" still echoes through the years

You know the heart of country music
Still beats in Luke the Drifter
You can tell when hew sings I Saw the Light
Old Marty, Hank and Lefty
Why, I can feel them right here with me
On this Silver Eagle rolling through the night

Who's gonna fill their shoes
Who's gonna stand that tall
Who's gonna play the Opry
And the Wabash Cannonball
Who's gonna give their heart and soul
To get to me and you
Lord I wonder, who's gonna fill their shoes

Yes I wonder, who's gonna fill their shoes?


Dale Watson recorded a song he called "Legends... What If?" So much of it now has come to pass.

No more Branded Man, no more Man in Black
No more Possum, what if no more Jones
Picture a world without Willie, or Waylon around
When all our legends are gone

Chorus:
Each time one slips away, we say man, they were great
Wish I'd went to seem them at their last show
Radio may have buried them, while they're here let's cherish them
Before all our legends are gone

Kitty and Loretta and Tammy, let's not forget her
Jerry Lee and Ray Price, they're still going strong
Picture a world without Hank Thompson, Charlie Pride or Buck around
When all our legends are gone

Let's help all our living legends live on


We still have Willie, and Ray Price, and Charlie Pride, and Merle Haggard; Loretta's still kicking and so is Jerry Lee.

Another sad time for Country music -- real country music, not that crap Nashville pop radio plays. They aren't fit to fill George Jones' shoes.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
nutmeg3
Apr. 28th, 2013 02:50 am (UTC)
I get goosebumps just reading the lyrics of "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
wildrider
Apr. 28th, 2013 02:57 am (UTC)
It's been running through my head since yesterday morning.

I still can't believe that song was released in 1980. It just seems so indelible, so eternal -- it shocks me to consider it's really not that old.
manoah
Apr. 28th, 2013 02:54 am (UTC)
I thought about you when I'd read of his passing. I knew it would move you as well.

Jones was one of my mom's favorites (along with Eddie Arnold) and his voice is part and parcel of my childhood.

RIP you old Possum.
wildrider
Apr. 28th, 2013 05:06 am (UTC)
Ah, Eddie Arnold! Another great.

The state of country music in this country just makes me cry. (I stopped listening to "country" radio the day after Waylon Jennings died -- the day not a single record of his was spun here, in the Valley, one of the places he called home...)
lordgloria
Apr. 28th, 2013 10:56 am (UTC)
I grew up on country. It's still my Music of Choice. George Jones' voice will always send a shiver down my spine. I met Jerry Reed (he looked through my sketchbook *squee*), was hugged by Tom T. Hall, got to see Don Williams and Ray Charles (all in small concerts in the hotel I was working at.) I adore and admire Dolly Parton, and my iPod is full of Willie, Waylon and the boys. Merle Haggard. And now so many of them are gone. Gonna miss 'em. Good-bye, Possum.

Edited at 2013-04-28 10:57 am (UTC)
wildrider
Apr. 28th, 2013 09:30 pm (UTC)
It's sad there's not more respect paid to Country Legends. Every major radio city has a Classic Rock station -- why not Classic Country? At least you can find 'em on satellite radio or Pandora or places like that now, but it would be SO nice if just one commercial radio station in the Phoenix area actually played COUNTRY music!

lordgloria
Apr. 28th, 2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean. It doesn't help that popular culture mocks the genre, telling young folk that it's totally uncool to listen to it. :(

I was very unhappy, though, when a lot of the new artists decided to get political and ugly in their music. Made it hard to listen to it on the radio anymore. Turned me off. Now I just put what I like on my iPod.
wildrider
Apr. 29th, 2013 03:01 am (UTC)
I stopped listening to commercial radio the day after Waylon Jennings died, and not a single radio station in Phoenix -- a city he'd lived in and been a major part of -- played a single one of his songs or even acknowledged him.

That was it for me.
lordgloria
Apr. 29th, 2013 03:31 am (UTC)
I can totally understand that sentiment. The man was one of the greats, and there was no excuse for not honouring him. *grrr*
ljs
Apr. 28th, 2013 11:15 am (UTC)
I am truly surprised "He Stopped Loving Her Today" was released so late. Wow.

When I heard the news, I (ridiculously) flashed on an old Vince Gill video for "One More Last Time," where at the end 'Possum' drives past Vince, both of them on tractors...

[hugs]
wildrider
Apr. 28th, 2013 09:25 pm (UTC)
I remember that video! I kept thinking about "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair," too.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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