Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Merle Haggard, “Going Where the Lonely Go”

“Going Where the Lonely Go”

Merle Haggard

Written by Merle Haggard


#1 (1 week)

 January 15, 1983

The creative renaissance of Merle Haggard continues with “Going Where the Lonely Go.”

It’s a sign of his confidence in the material that his performance is so understated and restrained.  There’s an intimacy to the record that heightens the emotional vulnerability of the lyric.

Because it’s about a man who is giving in to his loneliness, knowing that it’s here for good and he might as well just roll with it, there’s no need for any drama.  Even the brass instrumentation in the long musical outro is subdued, as the rest of the musicians play loosely and without intensity.  Every instrument gets a spotlight but the solos are subtle and never stand out too much from the rest of the backing track.

This one’s been overshadowed by the second single from the album, which we will cover later in 1983, as well as by the meteoric impact of Big City and its classic singles.  It is every bit as good as the more high profile hits of this era, and if someone wanted to make the case that 1982-1983 Haggard was on par with sixties Hag, I wouldn’t argue with them.

“Going Where the Lonely Go” gets an A

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. such a great song. It’s a shame we don’t get this honest emotion in modern country. To me this kind of stull is what really made country music special and different.

  2. As a kid, I confused “Where’s This Place Called Lonely Street” with Haggard’s “Going Where the Lonely Go.”

    I initially knew the former as performed by Andy Williams and Ray Price, although it has been covered many times since.

    The latter classic Hag tune is his alone. This is another song I didn’t realize came from his work in the ’80s. As has been proven to be a recurringly unfair assumption of mine from other songs of the decade recorded by established older stars, I just assumed this classic song had to be older.

    This 80s feature, however, has exposed multiple veins of country gold and numerous buried treasures from a historically maligned decade.

    I scrawled this song title on piece of paper and stood with it on the curb of the road to hail an old friend who was picking me up in his car so we could mourn Haggard’s loss together following his death in 2016.

    Haggard stands alone.

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