The Story Behind The Song: “That’s The Way Love Goes”

Merle Haggard That’s The Way Love Goes
Merle Haggard

Here we have a country music rarity: a song that reached number one twice for two different artists. Merle Haggard’s rendition of “That’s The Way Love Goes” reached the top of Billboard’s country singles chart exactly ten years after Johnny Rodriguez turned the trick with the same tune.


The origin of “That’s The Way Love Goes” belonged to songwriter Sanger D. Shafer (known as “Whitey” Shafer), who had the initial idea on a day in which he and his buddy Lefty Frizzell drove to Dallas Frazier’s cabin in the fall of ’73 for the sole purpose of writing songs. It was nice and secluded up there, and a great place to write. Shafer had a melody going and the first verse of a little tune he was working on. He ran it by Frizzell, and Lefty remarked, “Well, that’s the way love goes.” From that point, Whitey began looking to that phrase as the title. Within the hour, the two men developed the rest of “That’s The Way Love Goes.”

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