What Is the Meaning Behind the Lyrics to George Jones' Song "He Stopped Loving Her Today"?

George Jones' country hit "He Stopped Loving Her Today" tells the story of a man who is heartbroken when the woman he loves leaves him. He vows to love her until he dies. The lyrics eventually reveal that the man has recently died, having lived up to his vow: the day he stopped loving her was the day he died.

"He Stopped Loving Her Today" is sung from the perspective of an outsider, perhaps a friend of the heartbroken man, who describes attending the man's funeral or wake. It's not explicitly mentioned that the man has died, but the song says he is "dressed up to go away" and that "soon they'll carry him away," perhaps referring to the pallbearers carrying a casket.

The woman never returned to the man in life, but she does attend the wake or funeral. One of the song's most poignant lyrics comes near its end. The observer notes, seeing the woman again, that "it kept running through my mind / This time he's over her for good."

Jones released "He Stopped Loving Her Today" in 1980. One lyric mentions that the man had kept the woman's letters from 1962, making it clear to the audience that he had loved her for a long time.