Country Music

Merle Haggard’s Latest Interpretation of “That’s The Way Love Goes”

Merle Haggard, renowned for his ability to beautifully cover classic songs, demonstrated this talent with “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Originally written in 1973 by Lefty Frizzell and Sanger D. Shafer, the song was first recorded by Johnny Rodriguez in the same year and featured on his album “All I Ever Meant to Do was Sing.” Rodriguez’s rendition was a success, topping the US charts and making an appearance on the Canadian chart as well.

A decade later, Merle Haggard brought his unique style to the song, recording it for his thirty-eighth album, also titled “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Haggard’s version was a triumph, reaching number one in both the US and Canadian charts. The album itself climbed to number eight on the US Billboard chart. More than just chart success, Haggard’s rendition earned him the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance in 1984, underscoring his skillful interpretation of the song.

The song’s appeal extended beyond Haggard, with various artists covering it over the years. Connie Smith recorded her version in 1974 for her album of the same name. Interestingly, even Lefty Frizzell, one of the songwriters, created his own cover version. In 1999, Haggard revisited the song, this time in a duet with singer Jewel. Their joint version was released as a single and reached number fifty-six on the Billboard country chart, showcasing the song’s enduring popularity.

The collaboration between Jewel and Merle Haggard was part of a larger project. They recorded two songs for Haggard’s album “Merle Haggard: For the Record,” which features forty-three tracks. This collection album included re-recorded versions of some of Haggard’s previous hits, performed with various guest artists such as Willie Nelson, Brooks and Dunn, and Alabama. Among these collaborations, Jewel and Haggard worked together on “Silver Wings” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Their joint performance of these songs, especially evident in their live rendition during the 1999 CMA Awards show, highlighted the synergy and mutual respect between the two artists.

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