Merle Haggard: 30 Essential Songs

From the defiance of "The Fightin' Side of Me" to the melancholy of "If We Make It Through December"

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"That's the Way Love Goes" (1983)

A lifelong admirer of Lefty Frizzell, Haggard paid homage with this cover of Frizzell's "That's the Way Love Goes," which became the title track of a 1983 album. (He also dusted it off in 1999 as a duet with Jewel.) Johnny Rodriguez first took it to the top of the charts in 1973, and Connie Smith and Willie Nelson also recorded memorable versions. Haggard's take, even with electric piano adding some Eighties gloss, stayed true to the original's tenderness — a celebration of lasting love and the peace of mind it brings. J.R.    

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