That's the Way Love Goes (Merle Haggard album)

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That's the Way Love Goes
Thats the Way Merle Haggard.jpg
Studio album by Merle Haggard
Released August 1983
Recorded January/March 1983 at Woodland Sound Studio and Eleven Sound Studio, Nashville, TN
Genre Country
Length 32:00
Label Epic
Producer Merle Haggard, Ray Baker
Merle Haggard chronology
Pancho & Lefty
(1983)Pancho & Lefty1983
That's the Way Love Goes
Heart to Heart
(1983)Heart to Heart1983

That's the Way Love Goes is the 38th studio album by American country singer Merle Haggard, released in 1983.


Haggard had loved Lefty Frizzell's "That's the Way Love Goes" since he first heard the song took a stab at recording it towards the end of his tenure with Capitol Records in the mid-seventies with unsatisfactory results. That version, which can be found on the box set Hag: The Studio Recordings 1969-1976, is more lighthearted and whimsical than the one Haggard would record in 1983, which possesses a delicate melancholy that somehow becomes uplifting mainly because of Haggard's masterful delivery of the words. The song topped the Billboard country singles chart, as did "Someday When Things Are Good," a song co-authored by Haggard and his wife Leona Williams. It also proved to be prophetic, as the couple would divorce that year. Williams had also written Haggard's recent hit "You Take Me For Granted," but Williams, who replaced Haggard's previous wife Bonnie Owens in the Strangers, had creative aspirations of her own that were not always appreciated by her husband. As Haggard wrote in his 1981 autobiography Sing Me Back Home, "I'd reached the point in my career where I felt in charge of my music...When Leona tried to make a suggestion, I resented it. She resented my resentment. So it went. She kept saying she felt like an outsider...I couldn't understand why she got so upset by the press leaning toward good ol' Bonnie and the snide remarks about Leona coming in and breaking up my 'happy home.'"[1] The divorce would instigate a personal landslide for Haggard, who would spend the rest of the decade losing himself in a fog of alcohol and drugs, although initially it did not prevent him from scoring #1 hits. In fact, That's The Way Love Goes was his third hit LP for Epic in two years, not counting two separate duet albums with George Jones and Willie Nelson. While discussing his own song "Bad Boy" in the liner notes to Great Days: The John Prine Anthology, John Prine admitted, "Around that time, I fell under the spell of Merle Haggard's songwriting. There was a period there when he just seemed to be churning out some really great stuff. He was bringing out great albums every six or eight months, and I considered 'Bad Boy' sort of in the vein of what he was doing."

Overall, That's The Way Love Goes offers a more laid back feel than Haggard's recent LPs, demonstrating the singer's emotive vocal range on several ballads like "What Am I Gonna Do (With the Rest of My Life)", which peaked at number 3 and appears to reflect the turmoil with Williams, as does the lilting yet bitter "If You Hated Me." Other tracks feature the bright pop sound that was becoming more predominate on country albums in the eighties, such as "I'm Carrying Fire" and the jazzy "The Last Boat of the Day." The album's closing track, "I Think I'll Stay," sounds like an afterhours blues jam as Haggard croons, "Think I'll stay around till I'm sick of home sweet home..." The album would peak at number 8 on the Billboard country albums chart.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[2]

Matt Fink of AllMusic rates the album "another decent collection of laidback ballads that lets Haggard display some of the full range of his vocal talents..." John Morthland of "Here's one of the great, lost Haggard albums...The tone is bleak, funereal, without a single uptempo stomp to break up the succession of one beautiful, heartbreaking ballad after another." At the Grammy Awards of 1985, That's the Way Love Goes won the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. That's the Way Love Goes was reissued on CD by DCC Compact Classics in 2000, and reissued again along with Going Where the Lonely Go on CD by S & P Records in 2005.[3]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "What Am I Gonna Do (With the Rest of My Life)" (Merle Haggard) – 3:35
  2. "(I'm Gonna Paint Me) A Bed of Roses" (Haggard, Bobby Whitson) – 2:11
  3. "Someday When Things Are Good" (Haggard, Leona Williams) – 3:38
  4. "That's the Way Love Goes" (Lefty Frizzell, Sanger D. Shafer) – 3:04
  5. "Carryin' Fire" (Red Lane) – 2:55
  6. "Don't Seem Like We've Been Together All Our Lives" (Haggard) – 2:56
  7. "If You Hated Me" (Haggard, Lane, Dean Holloway) – 2:42
  8. "Love Will Find You" (Haggard) – 2:36
  9. "The Last Boat of the Day" (Hank Cochran, Lane) – 3:40
  10. "I Think I'll Stay" (Haggard) – 4:43


  • Merle Haggard – vocals, guitar
  • Roy Nichols – guitar
  • Reggie Young – guitar
  • Greg Galbraith – guitar
  • Dave Kirby – guitar
  • Glenn Martin – guitar
  • Red Lane – guitar
  • Norm Hamlet – steel guitar
  • Dennis Hromek – bass
  • Mike Leach – bass
  • Gene Chrisman – drums
  • Kenny Malone – drums
  • Biff Adams – drums
  • Tiny Moore – fiddle, mandolin
  • Jimmy Balken – fiddle
  • Bobby Wood – keyboards
  • Mark Yeary – keyboards
  • Terry McMillan – harmonica
  • Don Markham – horns

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 8


  1. ^ Haggard, Merle; Russell, Peggy (1983). Sing Me Back Home: My Story. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-45275-9. 
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^ Allmusic entry for Going Where the Lonely Go/That's the Way Love Goes. Retrieved December 2009.