George Jones and Tammy Wynette were one of the first true power couples of country music, following for a time in the steps of Johnny and June. While their 1969 marriage ended in 1975, their music outlasted it.
Jones and Wynette continued to record songs together following their divorce; in fact, some of their biggest hits came after their separation, no doubt in part because of fans' fascination with the “will they or won’t they?” aspect of the couple.
Both Jones and Wynette remarried, but their partnership produced some of country music’s most classic duets. Below, The Boot picks the five best.
"The Ceremony"From 'Me and the First Lady' (1972)
“The Ceremony” was Jones and Wynette's second single together as a married couple. It was a strategic release, and it fully leans into the fairytale of the newlyweds: Modeled after an actual wedding ceremony, the song contains the lines, “Do you, Tammy, take this man, George, to be your lawfully wedded husband?” No subtlety here, but it didn’t matter: It hit No. 6 on the charts.
"Two Story House"From 'Together Again' (1980)
“Two Story House” was the first single off of 1980’s Together Again. Co-written by Wynette, David Lindsey and Glenn Tubb, the song tells the story of a house as metaphor for a failed marriage. It rose to No. 2 on the charts, likely in part because of the story behind it: Jones and Wynette were divorced at the time they performed this song together, lending potency to lines such as “We filled the house with everything / But somehow left love out.”
"Near You"From 'Golden Ring' (1976)
Although “Near You” was originally written and recorded in 1947, Jones and Wynette made the song their own when they recorded their version in 1977. It reached the top of the charts, the second song in a row to achieve that feat following the couple’s divorce; their relationship status only accentuated the tone of bittersweet love.
"Golden Ring"From 'Golden Ring' (1976)
“Golden Ring” is a story song in which the main character isn’t a person, but an object: a golden ring. The ring’s journey starts and ends in a pawn shop: First, it's purchased by a couple young and in love, and, finally, it's sold back to the same pawn shop when that couple’s love has become “dead and gone.” The No. 1 song’s theme is its refrain: “By itself, it’s just a cold metallic thing / Only love can make a golden wedding ring.”
"We're Gonna Hold On"From 'We're Gonna Hold On' (1973)
“We’re Gonna Hold On” was the only No. 1 song by Jones and Wynette that was released while they were married. Still, like many of the couple’s great songs, it hints both at the enormity of their love and the enormity of their problems, with prescient lines including “Some love lives / And some love don’t.” Even knowing that the relationship didn’t last, “We’re Gonna Hold On” is a beautiful testament to hope.