One Of The Greatest Writers Who Wrote For The Greatest Singers
Sanger D. “Whitey” Shafer’s musical career started when he became a member of his school’s band. That career ended with him being the force behind the pen that wrote some of country music’s greatest songs.
Over the years, Shafer wrote for the biggest names in country music, with artists such as Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Willie Nelson working with him through the years. Just one notable song he wrote for that batch of artists was Haggard’s “That’s the Way Love Goes,” which was a number one hit for him as well as Johnny Rodriguez.
But Shafer is perhaps most well-known for his work with George Strait.
The First Collaboration…
Shafer had been through three divorces by the 1980s, which inspired him as a songwriter. He ended up penning a little tune called “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind,” which Strait cut and released in 1984.
The duo proved that they were a match made in heaven, as the song topped the country chart in the U.S. and reached the tenth spot on the Canadian chart. It also helped Shafer earn a CMA Award nomination for Song of the Year.
After the success of “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind,” it only made sense for Shafer and Strait to collaborate again. Their second collaboration ended up being one of the greatest accomplishments of both of their careers.
…And The Second
Shafer joined forces with his forth wife, Lydia, to write a song about a man who has fled to Tennessee and left his many ex lovers behind in another state. That state is Texas, and of course, the song we’re talking about is “All My Ex’s Live In Texas.”
Strait released the song in 1987, and made it another one of his many chart-topping hits in the U.S. and Canada. The song generated even more hype than his previous collaboration with Shafer on “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind,” and earned a Grammy nod in addition to a CMA Song of the Year nomination.
Just two years after “All My Ex’s” tore up the charts, Shafer was rightfully inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The Later Years
Shafer continued to experience success in the later years of his career. His song “I Wonder Do You Think of Me” was recorded by country music icon Keith Whitley, and released as the first single after his tragic passing.
The song became yet another number one hit for both Whitley and Shafer.
In later years, Shafer kept busy writing songs for some of the hottest artists at the time, including Lee Ann Womack and Kenny Chesney. He kept on writing, even though his legacy would have been secure if he had stopped writing after “I Wonder Do You Think of Me.”
Losing A Legend
Sadly, the country music world will never get the chance to hear another new song from the accomplished writer. News broke on Saturday night (January 12), that he had passed away at the age of 84.
The news was first shared by Nashville news reporter Jesse Knutson, with further reports circulating the news in the days that followed.
#BREAKING: Legendary songwriter Whitey Shafer has passed away. Shafer was responsible for George Strait’s hit “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” Merle Haggard’s “That’s The Way Love Goes” and numerous other songs by artists such as George Jones. He also toured with Willie Nelson.
— Jesse Knutson (@JesseKnutsonNC5) January 13, 2019
No details about Shafer’s death or funeral arrangements are available at this time.
Even though Shafer is gone, he left behind an extensive legacy for us to remember him by. All we have to do is listen to some of our favorite classic and traditional country songs, and we’ll bring his talent back to life again.
Our hearts and prayers go out to all of Shafer’s family members, friends, and the many artists he worked with through the years. May he rest in peace.