Country Music

A New Rendering of “That’s The Way Love Goes” by Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard was a master at reinterpreting classic songs, and his version of “That’s the Way Love Goes” is a prime example. The song, originally penned in 1973 by country legends Lefty Frizzell and Sanger D. Shafer, first found success with Johnny Rodriguez. It was a standout track on Rodriguez’s album “All I Ever Meant to Do was Sing,” climbing to the top of the US charts and making its mark on the Canadian charts as well.

A decade later, Merle Haggard brought his unique touch to the song for his thirty-eighth album, also titled “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Haggard’s rendition was a hit, soaring to number one in both the US and Canada. The album itself reached a respectable eighth place on the US Billboard chart. More than just chart success, Haggard’s performance earned him the 1984 Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, solidifying the song’s place in country music history.

The song’s appeal didn’t end with Haggard and Rodriguez. Other artists, including Connie Smith and even its co-writer Lefty Frizzell, covered it. In 1999, Haggard revisited the song, recording a duet version with singer-songwriter Jewel. This collaboration was released as a single, reaching number fifty-six on the Billboard country chart, showcasing the song’s enduring resonance across different musical styles and generations.

The collaboration between Merle Haggard and Jewel was part of a larger project, Haggard’s album “Merle Haggard: For the Record.” This extensive collection featured forty-three songs, including re-recordings of some of Haggard’s earlier hits with various artists. Notable collaborations included Willie Nelson, Brooks and Dunn, and Alabama. Among these, the tracks “Silver Wings” and “That’s the Way Love Goes” recorded with Jewel stand out, offering a fresh perspective on Haggard’s enduring legacy. This unique partnership was highlighted in their live performance at the 1999 CMA Awards show, a memorable moment in country music history.

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