Here are five songs where artists have proved the worst of times can lead us to the best of times.

1. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones
George Jones recorded this iconic country song at one of the lowest points in his life in 1980; Jones had destroyed his personal and professional life with substance abuse. Jones’ bourbon-laced, grizzled voice on the track acted as CPR to his career, and to the mournful ballad. His artistry earned him a Grammy Award in 1980 for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, and CMA Song of the Year for 1980 and 1981. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was performed by George Jones and written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam.

George Jones
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2. “Crazy” by Patsy Cline
This song has an interesting story, because although it is extremely well-known and popular still, it almost didn’t make the cut to be released. While performed by Cline, the song was originally written by Willie Nelson, who didn’t have the commercialized style of songwriting that was popular at the time. “I had problems immediately with my song ‘Crazy’ because it had four or five chords in it,” said Nelson. “Not that ‘Crazy’ is real complicated; it just wasn’t your basic three-chord country hillbilly song.” However, once Cline added her rich, saucy vocals, the track was an undeniable hit.

Patsy Cline
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Willie Nelson
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3. “Going Where The Lonely Go” by Merle Haggard
This song came from a moment shared while at Britannia Studio in Los Angeles studio between Haggard and his friend Dean Holloway. The two were tired and creatively exhausted but found inspiration in these moments too. As the story is told, Holloway was about to walk out of the studio, and Haggard asked him where he was going. “I’m going where the lonely go,” said Holloway. That line, in a time of desperation, inspired this hit track that brought peace to Haggards confined life.

Merle Haggard
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4. “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died” by Tom T. Hall
After dealing with the loss of his mother, and a teenage guitarist who had been a vital inspiration to him as a child, Hall used music to cope with the grief. “I had escaped my environment, and yet I longed for the simplicity and the independence that was demonstrated by the people that I had left behind,” said Hall. “I had to learn that we never escape who we are.” He gave the character in the song the fake name, “Clayton Delaney,” which came from the name of a familiar hill in his neighborhood. In recent news, Hall was recognized with a BMI Award at the 60th annual BMI Country Awards.

Tom T. Hall


5. “Don’t Be Cruel” by Elvis Presley
Without receiving recognition for our work, we often think of that work as useless. Luckily, singer and songwriter Otis Blackwell did not have the same perspective. Blackwell began his career in 1953 with the hit song, “Daddy’s Rolling Stone.” Even with the track’s success, Blackwell didn’t feel he had yet found his place. In 1956, the rising star Elvis Presley picked up a song Blackwell had written titled, “Don’t Be Cruel.”

This exchange created an artistic relationship between Blackwell and Presley in which Blackwell brought Presley many more hits, as well as artists like Peggy Lee and Jerry Lee Lewis. While Blackwell played a huge part in the success of Presley, the two never met in person. However, you can still hear his soulful sound in some of Presley’s tracks. “At certain tempo, the way Elvis sang was the result of copying Otis’ demos,” said Blackwell’s friend Doc Pomus. Oddly, Blackwell and Presley never met.

Elvis Presley
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Otis Blackwell