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Merle Haggard Presents a New Spin on “That’s The Way Love Goes”

Merle Haggard, a master of reinventing classic songs, left an indelible mark with his version of “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Originally written in 1973 by country legends Lefty Frizzell and Sanger D. Shafer, the song was first brought to life by Johnny Rodriguez. It quickly rose to prominence, becoming a part of Rodriguez’s album “All I Ever Meant to Do was Sing” and soaring to the top of the US charts, while also making a notable impact on the Canadian chart. This initial success set the stage for what would become a beloved staple in country music.

A decade later, Merle Haggard introduced his own interpretation of the song in his thirty-eighth album, aptly titled “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Haggard’s cover not only echoed the success of its predecessor by reaching number one in both the US and Canadian charts, but it also brought him critical acclaim. His rendition was so powerful and well-received that it propelled the album to the eighth spot on the US Billboard chart. Furthermore, in 1984, Haggard’s exceptional vocal performance on this track earned him the prestigious Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance.

The song’s journey didn’t end with Haggard, as it continued to inspire other artists. In 1974, Connie Smith lent her voice to the song for her album of the same name. Even Lefty Frizzell, one of the original songwriters, couldn’t resist covering his own creation. In a twist of fate, in 1999, Merle Haggard revisited “That’s the Way Love Goes,” this time in a duet with the singer Jewel. Their collaborative version was released as a single, making a respectable appearance on the Billboard country chart at number fifty-six, proving the song’s enduring appeal.

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, showcasing Haggard’s extensive career and musical evolution. In this album, Haggard revisited some of his classic hits, recording them anew with various guest artists, including Willie Nelson, Brooks and Dunn, Alabama, and others. Among these collaborations, Haggard and Jewel recorded not just “That’s the Way Love Goes” but also the single “Silver Wings.” Their partnership was highlighted in a memorable live performance during the 1999 CMA Awards show, a testament to the song’s lasting legacy and Haggard’s influence in the world of country music.

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