Country Music

Merle Haggard’s Renewed Take on “That’s The Way Love Goes”

Merle Haggard, renowned for his exceptional covers of classic songs, demonstrated his skill with “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Originally penned in 1973 by the iconic Lefty Frizzell and songwriter Sanger D. Shafer, the song was first brought to life by Johnny Rodriguez in the same year, featuring in his album “All I Ever Meant to Do was Sing.” Rodriguez’s rendition of the song soared to the top of the US charts and also made its mark on the Canadian chart, showcasing its widespread appeal.

A decade later, Merle Haggard breathed new life into this classic with his own cover for his thirty-eighth album, also titled “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Haggard’s version achieved remarkable success, climbing to number one on both US and Canadian charts. The album itself also garnered significant acclaim, reaching number eight on the US Billboard chart. Beyond chart success, Haggard’s rendition earned him the prestigious Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1984, cementing the song’s legacy in country music history.

The song’s journey didn’t end with Haggard, as numerous artists have put their own spin on it over the years. Connie Smith recorded it in 1974 for her album of the same name. Intriguingly, even the songwriter Lefty Frizzell created his own cover. In a notable collaboration in 1999, Haggard teamed up with the talented Jewel to produce another version of the song. This duet version made a notable impact, reaching number fifty-six on the Billboard country chart.

The collaboration between Jewel and Merle Haggard was part of a larger project, “Merle Haggard: For the Record,” an album featuring forty-three songs, including several re-recordings of Haggard’s earlier hits with various artists. Notable collaborations on this album included performances with Willie Nelson, Brooks and Dunn, and Alabama. Among the tracks, Jewel and Haggard recorded two singles together, “Silver Wings” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Their partnership was highlighted in a memorable live performance during the 1999 CMA Awards show, showcasing the timeless appeal of Haggard’s music and his ability to bridge generational gaps in country music.

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