George Jones died today. I thought the radio reports on NPR and elsewhere focused too much on his problems with alcohol and, admittedly decades long,episodes of bad behavior, and not enough on his artistry. Many say he was the greatest country vocalist, others say he was topped only by Hank Williams. "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is Jones' signature song. I love the soaring strings in the original but I've heard them enough today. In this live version listen to what the pedal steel does to fill that musical space.
Here is how Classic Tracks starts it's analysis of the tune
It's the saddest song, and the most mournful voice, and the most histrionic production and the cruelest punchline in the history of country music. But what a magnificent cry America had in 1980 when the first track of George Jones' album I Am What I Am became the brilliant, infamous superstar's first Number One single in six years.