I wish I had favorited the tweet, but I didn’t, and I couldn’t bring it up on a quick Google search. I found this tweet, though, and it’s close enough:
Okay. So, I follow Terry Teachout on Twitter, and he’s a playwright and author and drama critic in New York, and I am a work-a-daddy lawyer in beautiful downtown Trenton, New Jersey. I don’t think we have much in common except politics (we’ve both written for National Review Online, although not for several years for either of us) and an appreciation of country music.
The actual tweet (and again, I don’t have it, and am too lazy to go winding through Teachout’s Twitter timeline to find it) was either a link to this Commentary review of a book about country-music legend George Jones, or a link to the book itself, endearingly entitled “He Stopped Loving Her Today: George Jones, Billy Sherrill, and the Pretty-Much Totally True Story of the Making of the Greatest Country Record of All Time.” Either way, it was enough to encourage me to buy the book (written by Jack Isenhour) and read it closely.
This is the point of the story where I need to direct people to the actual song, in case they haven’t heard it. (This is not a very good version, and has Jones kind of mangling the words a little, and of course does not have the Billy Sherrill production values that Isenhour’s book dissects, but it’s George Jones singing “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” what more do you want?
Okay. Now, how do you get from that song, to a whole contemporary romance novel set in New Jersey? Well, for that (as he said, rubbing his hands together), you’ll have to read the book. What I can say is that the book is about a funeral, and a woman who returns from the deep past to attend said funeral, and the events that happen afterward, and that there are at least a few references there to George Jones songs, and lost love, and heartbreak.
But the amazing thing that happened, or at least I think so, is this: Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam sat down and wrote a song together, and that got Billy Sherrill to put together the musicians and the arrangement, and that got George Jones to be just sober enough to get into the studio and make a hit record, and that got Jack Isenhour to write a book about it, and that got Terry Teachout to write a book review about it, and when George Jones died, Teachout (using a technology that no one imagined in 1980) tweeted about it, and I saw the tweet, read the book, and wrote a novel incorporating its themes. If even one of those things doesn’t happen, I end up doing something else with my time, and you don’t have a nice book to read, or if you do, you have a different one, probably about a spaceship. So there you go, and thanks to all the good people who helped make it happen.