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The marriage of Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, two pillars of the world of country and American music, has touched its last chord.
Isbell filed for divorce from Shires after nearly 11 years of marriage on December 15, 2023, according to court records reviewed by Rolling Stone. Isbell is a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter who, for the past decade, has fronted his band, 400 Unit; Shires is a respected solo artist, a member of the supergroup Highwomen and an occasional member of Isbell’s band. At last Sunday’s Grammy Awards, Isbell and 400 Unit won two Grammy Awards, including Best Americana Album for their latest release. Weathervanes.
Representatives for Isbell and Shires did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comments.
The couple’s history goes back more than two decades. Isbell first saw Shires in 2003, when she played violin in Billy Joe Shaver’s band. A year later, the two met; by then, Shires was at Thriftstore Cowgirls and Isbell at Drive-By Truckers. When a friend of Shires told him that Isbell was a famous rock star, Shires had him sign a Polaroid as a joke; Isbell then watched her performance from a front-row seat. “Now, in retrospect, that seems really creepy; I would never do that,” Isbell said. Rolling Stone in 2018. “I thought, ‘That’s that girl who played with Billy Joe Shaver, she has to be it.’ Because she had the same boots on. “We met and talked briefly after that.”
The two stayed in touch and Shires played on their 2011 album. Here we Take a break and become a recurring member of his gang. That same year, they became a couple and the two began living together in Nashville. In 2012, he visited her at Sewanee: Southern University in Tennessee and proposed to her. In February 2013 they married and two years later a daughter, Mercy Rose, was born.
As the couple openly acknowledged, the challenges of a dual-career musical family, combined with a drinking problem that Isbell overcame early in their relationship, continued to push their marriage. Shires helped him get into rehab early on. “It started out as a great night, you know, and it ended up being the worst night of all time,” he told WNYC. “At that point I no longer had anything to do with him. Because he was very angry the next morning.”
Fans of both musicians often read between the lines to determine what songs they had written about the other. Although the couple rarely confirmed those suspicions, few doubted that Shires’ “Fault Lines,” from their 2002 album take it like a manIt was about their marital problems: “You could say it’s my fault we just didn’t get along/And if anyone asks, I’ll say what’s true and it’s really ‘I don’t know.'”
During the making of Isbell’s 2020 album Meetings, the difficulties between them seemed to reach a critical point. Shires, who also played on the album, said he felt his opinion was ignored and left his house to live in a motel for a week.
In February 2023, the two celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary with two optimistic posts. A few months later, Sam Jones’ HBO documentary Run with eyes closed They detailed their lives and the record of Meetings. The film included scenes of tension between the two in the studio, and Shires was also seen reading aloud an email to Isbell about marriage counseling. “I’ll never see him again,” Isbell said. GQ this year. “But we told people the truth and it was good for them to see it, because that’s the job.”