Country Music

“That’s The Way Love Goes”: A New Interpretation by Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard, a master of covering classic songs, brought new life to “That’s the Way Love Goes,” a track originally penned in 1973 by Lefty Frizzell and Sanger D. Shafer. Johnny Rodriguez was the first to record the song in the same year, and it was included in his album “All I Ever Meant to Do was Sing.” Rodriguez’s rendition successfully climbed to the top of the US charts and made its mark on the Canadian chart as well.

A decade later, Merle Haggard introduced his own version of the song in his thirty-eighth album, aptly titled “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Haggard’s rendition was a hit, reaching the number one spot on both US and Canadian charts. This success was not just limited to the single; the album itself ranked number eight on the US Billboard chart. Moreover, Haggard’s interpretation earned him a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1984, a testament to his exceptional talent.

The popularity of “That’s the Way Love Goes” extended beyond Haggard’s version. Connie Smith recorded it in 1974 for her album of the same name, and even Lefty Frizzell, one of the original songwriters, released his own cover. In 1999, Haggard revisited the song, this time recording a duet with singer Jewel. Their collaborative version was well-received, peaking at number fifty-six on the Billboard country chart.

Haggard’s partnership with Jewel was part of a larger project, his album “Merle Haggard: For the Record,” which featured a compilation of forty-three songs. This album was special as it included re-recordings of some of Haggard’s earlier singles with various artists, including Willie Nelson, Brooks and Dunn, and Alabama. Among these collaborations, Jewel and Haggard recorded not only “That’s the Way Love Goes” but also “Silver Wings.” Their dynamic performances, including a live rendition at the 1999 CMA Awards show, showcased the timeless appeal of Haggard’s music and his ability to bridge generations through song.

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