Thursday, April 28, 2005

he stopped loving her today

(note: this is the first in a series of possible "greatest songs ever written" essays. Enjoy.)

"He Stopped Loving Her Today"

Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam

Definitive version recorded by George Jones


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

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

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

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


This is the definitive heartbreak ballad. None of that "my wife left me, my dog ran away, and I can't do a thing with my hair" bullshit. Some of the rawest emotion ever put onto wax is embedded into this song. It perfectly captures the sense of longing and heartache that comes with unrequited love.

For every shoegazing emo kid in hightops, a sweatervest, and hornrims who picked up a Cure album when his girlfriend dumped him, there are three good old boys who wanted nothing more than to drink away their sorrows when their best drinking buddy popped a quarter into the jukebox and played this song.

This is possibly the only time you are allowed to cry over a girl, according to the macho posturing rules passed down from our forefathers. When beer won't erase the memory, dealing with the loss and rejection while listening to George Jones is the only solution.

It sounds exactly like you feel when you've lost your dream lover, and that's due in part to George's rocky relationship past. He, at this time, had gone through three wives, but still had to see his latest ex, Tammy Wynette, every day on tour and in the studio. He was confronted every day with his romantic failures.

Perhaps this is why he turned to drink and drug.

Perhaps this is why he was arrested on live television in Nashville for drunk driving three years after recording this song.

Perhaps this is why he could infuse this somewhat cutesy song with so much angst and pathos.

Perhaps this is why this is the greatest song ever written.


Blogger Twiggy said...

It's Stephan Foster!!(en un accent francais)...well, I'm hitting you back...I found your comment to be humurous after reading it..not just once, but twice. I'm definitely putting off writing that damn essay. Gruff...lemme post what I consider to be one on the best songs ever: Moody Blues: Nights in White Satin. 'Nuff said.

6:15 PM


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