Love Song for Dolly Parton, “Always Wanting You” by Merle Haggard 1

The song “Always Wanting You” is one of the songs where artists express their love to another person. It is common or you could say that these kinds of songs are pretty ordinary. The only difference is that Merle Haggard was confessing his romantic feelings to an artist which he had an infatuation with while on a tour together with her.

You might be shocked, but that artist was none other than the sweet Dolly Parton. Merle Haggard did not mention her name in the song but it became a common knowledge that she was the one he was singing about. He had no problems talking publicly about his feeling with regards the beautiful singer. The two toured a lot together in 1974-1975. During those times, they have spent large blocks of time with each other. Also, Haggard expressed his desires for a more intimate relationship on several occasions, but Dolly insisted throughout that it could never. Although her husband Carl Dean never went on tour with her, she claimed that she loved only him, and would never cheat on him. Nonetheless, Merle’s desires persisted.

It got to the point that Haggard literally couldn’t get Dolly off his mind. He would envision her when he walked out on stage to do a show. Also when he went to sleep at night and when he woke up in the morning. He tried everything to put her out of his mind, but nothing worked. Merle was the type of songwriter who could be inspired by the least little thing which might trigger an idea for a song. However, this infatuation with Dolly was big and it completely overwhelmed him. He proudly wrote “Always Wanting You” specifically for the object of his desire. Haggard was also so proud of his accomplishment that he telephoned Parton at three o’clock one morning from Reno, Nevada and sang the song to her right over the phone with hopes that this could possibly impress her enough to give in. Again, she explained her inability to get involved and eventually, after she listened to the song and his pleading, he finally allowed her to go back to sleep.

This part of his life became a matter of public record after its inclusion in Merle’s book “Sing Me Back Home: My Own Story.” Haggard wasn’t embarrassed about it, nor did Parton claim to be. She handled it with her usual grace, saying that she was more flattered than anything about him feeling that way. She wrapped it up neatly by simply saying that Merle is a very special friend to her, and it was very bold and sweet of him to tell her that he cared that much.

“Always Wanting You” reached the pinnacle of Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart on April 12, 1975, and was strong enough to remain in that position for two weeks. It was Haggard’s sixth number one single in a row, and the 20th of his eventual 38 chart-toppers, the third most in history.