On April 28th and 29th 1971, George Jones and Tammy Wynette spent two days at Nashville’s Columbia Recording Studios laying down tracks for what would be the married couple’s first duets album. Titled We Go Together, the LP was Jones’ first for Epic Records, the label to which Wynette was already signed. Released in October 1971, just days after Jones inked a 10-year pact with the label, We Go Together reached Number Three on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, and yielded the couple’s first chart hit as a duo.
Written by Jones with famed songwriter Leon Payne, “Take Me” had already been a solo hit for Jones in 1966 while he was still signed to Musicor Records. By that time, the Texas-born entertainer had notched several Top Tens and a handful of chart-toppers, including the classic “She Thinks I Still Care,” while also recording duets with Margie Singleton, Melba Montgomery, Brenda Carter and Gene Pitney. But it was the inspired — albeit turbulent — teaming with third wife Wynette, whom he married in 1969, that brought both vocalists their greatest success as singing partners. Hypnotic and sensual, the above performance of “Take Me” showcases a more subdued side of both singers, but the dips and swells of Jones’ vocals and the unrelenting ache in Wynette’s tear-stained voice pack an emotional wallop that’s nevertheless full of romantic promise.
In December 1974, one day after recording “Near You,” Jones and Wynette separated permanently and finalized their divorce in March 1975. Post-divorce, “Near You” and the Bobby Braddock-Rafe Van Hoy classic “Golden Ring” would return the couple to the Number One spot, just before Jones would enter one of the darkest periods of his personal and professional life, repeatedly entering rehab and getting headlines for his drunken exploits. One bright spot during this time would be the 1980 release of “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” the award-winning tune cited by many as the greatest country song of all time.
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Jones and Wynette reunited in 1995 for their final duets album One, which was followed by a concert tour that, in spite of ongoing medical issues for Wynette, gave the two their only opportunity to perform a full concert together for a Nashville audience at the Grand Ole Opry House. Three years later, Wynette would die from cardiac arrhythmia at age 55, although her passing was shrouded in controversy until her body was exhumed one year after her death. George Jones would die on April 26th, 2013, seven months before he was scheduled to play his final concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The 81-year-old was instead memorialized at that all-star event in November with performances from artists including Alan Jackson, George Strait, Megadeth, Brad Paisley and more than 100 others. An emotional highpoint of that evening was the powerful pairing of Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood on “Take Me.”