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How George Jones' Saddest Song Became 'The Greatest Country Song'

George jones Songs | How George Jones' Saddest Song Became 'The Greatest Country Song' | Country Music Videos
Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The 81st single for legendary George Jones, and the one he credited with reviving his career, started off as a battle with his producer. 

Recorded in 1978 and released two years later, the country legend repeatedly voiced his dissatisfaction with the song and said that "it was too long, too sad, too depressing" and thought that nobody would play it.

Beyond the agonizingly sad lyrics, his former producer, Billy Sherrill, revealed that Jones hated the melody and refused to learn it; instead singing the lyrics to the melody of Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through The Night". Remembering one of the recording sessions, Sherrill revealed a conversation during recording.

"I said 'That's not the melody!' and he said 'Yeah, but it's a better melody.' I said 'It might be—Kristofferson would think so too, it's his melody!'"

Although Jones disliked the song when he was first presented with it, upon its release the track debuted at the No. 1 spot on Billboard's US Hot Country Singles chart and stayed there for an unprecedented amount of time: 18 weeks. 

The melancholy tune spoke to many people and tugged at just as many heartstrings, bringing it to newfound heights and re-immersing the country singer in the forefront of country music. 

Jones won a Grammy Award for his performance, was honored by the ACM for both Song Of The Year and Single Of The Year, and the song became a staple in country music. 

Many publications and reviews have dictated the song as "The Greatest Country Song Of All Time" and to this day it provides a significant amount of influence to new artists and a goal for success. 

Three of country music's most memorable performances of the song are included below as a tribute to this incredible piece of music history and one of country music's pioneers. 

George Jones Performing Live On The Ronnie Prophet Show - July, 1980

Just three months after it's release, and shortly after it became the hottest country song ever made, George Jones makes a special appearance on the popular Canadian television show. 

Alan Jackson - Singing At George Jones' Funeral on May, 2013

At the memorial services for the country icon, country music gathered together and honored their friend in a way nobody else could - by singing his hits. Alan Jackson was blessed with the honor of singing his signature hit. 

George Strait & Alan Jackson's Duet - 2013 CMA Awards, November, 2013

During the CMA Awards that year, country artists gathered together and honored one of the greatest singers in our lifetime with a duet that is sure to bring tears to your eyes.



He said "I'll love you till 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 nineteen sixty-two
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
Aww, and we all wondered if she would
And it kept runnin' 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

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