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The Story Behind The Song: “You Take Me for Granted” By Merle Haggard

The Story Behind The Song: “You Take Me for Granted” - Merle Haggard
Photo: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

“You Take Me for Granted” is From Merle Haggard’s Album “Going Where the Lonely Go”

Leona Williams, born Leona Belle Helton on January 7, 1943, adopted her professional surname from her first husband. Originally from Vienna, Missouri, she gained prominence as a member of Loretta Lynn’s band in 1966, showcasing her talents on the upright bass and contributing harmonies during Lynn’s hit, “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind).”

Despite her success with Lynn, Williams aspired to carve out her own musical path. In the late 1960s, she released her debut single under Wesley Rose’s Hickory Records. During this time, she embarked on a notable nine-week tour of the Far East and Southeast Asia amidst the Vietnam War.


Merle Haggard, captivated by Williams’ voice after hearing her on the radio, became an avid admirer in the early 1970s. However, their paths didn’t cross until January 1975 when Williams joined Haggard’s touring ensemble. Initially, she saw this as an opportunity to broaden her audience, but it led to a more significant connection.

>>READ ALSO: The Story Behind Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home”

Her marriage to Haggard, though tumultuous, inspired her to pen “You Take Me for Granted” during moments of frustration. Williams insisted that every line of the song reflected her reality. While touring, the couple often traveled in separate buses, with Haggard spending most of his time socializing with the band, leaving Williams feeling isolated and unappreciated. The loneliness she experienced on the road served as the backdrop for crafting the song.


Surprisingly, Haggard’s first exposure to “You Take Me for Granted” came during a recording session at Woodland Sound Studio in Nashville. In a spontaneous decision, Haggard chose to include the song in the session’s lineup, unaware that it was a reflection of his and Williams’ relationship.

The track, along with another from the Woodland session, found its place on the “Going Where the Lonely Go” album. Released on May 28, 1983, “You Take Me for Granted” swiftly ascended to the top of Billboard’s country singles chart, solidifying Williams’ status as a respected artist in her own right.

>>READ ALSO: Merle Haggard’s Final Recorded Song, “Kern River Blues,” Is Imbued With Memories

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