In honor of Country Music Month, we asked a panel of country music experts from across the country, “What is the best country song you’ve ever heard?” This installment is from Charlie Ray. Charlie is an on-air personality and production director at KFRG in Riverside. Here now, is the best country song Charlie Ray has ever heard.
The best country song I’ve ever heard, hands-down, is [lastfm]George Jones[/lastfm]’ classic tear-jerker, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
It simply has it all. First, it’s about as sad as a song can get – and all the truly great country songs are heart-breakers. “He said ‘I’ll love you till I die’” it begins and goes on to tell the story of a very one-sided love affair. When the chorus shows up you might think for an instant that there’s hope for our hero – “He stopped loving her today,” it says.
But the next lines tell the sad truth: “they placed a wreath upon his door, and soon they’ll carry him away. He stopped loving her today.” Ouch. And just to push the knife a little deeper, George tells us he went to the funeral for a final look and it was “the first time I’ve seen him smile in years.” Geez. Never listen to this one without the Suicide Prevention Hotline number handy.
It’s clever, it’s extremely well-written and it’s sung by George Jones – perhaps the greatest singer that country music ever gave us. So, if I have to pick one song – and only one – that reaches the furthest into the shattered heart of classic country music, give me ‘ol George and his tale of woe. And the number to a good therapist.
In addition to his radio work, Charlie Ray is an amateur songwriter and country performer. You can hear his music (including his version of “He Stopped Loving Her Today”) here.