Perhaps many of you, dear readers, are not familiar with the American country music singer Leona Williams. Well, she is Merle Haggard’s former wife and wrote two of the singer’s 38 No. 1 single. The first song she penned for The Hag that went No. 1 was “You Take Me for Granted.” The second was called “Someday When Things Are Good” which she co-wrote with the “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” singer.
Released in March 1983, “You Take Me for Granted” appeared as the second single from Haggard’s album Going Where the Lonely Go. In addition, the song is the second track from the album to reach No. 1. The first was the record’s lead single and the title track, “Going Where the Lonely Go.” It’s one of the five songs that Haggard wrote on the album.
“You Take Me for Granted”
By all accounts, Leona Williams wrote the song as a personal testimonial about their plummeting marriage. With it, the singer-songwriter hinted on the impending end of their marriage. On the same year the song was released, the couple split up. Music journalist Daniel Cooper wrote on his liner notes for the 1994 retrospective Down Every Road the story behind the song’s composition. According to Cooper, Williams penned the “You Take Me for Granted” in Ohio while seated on a bus. Subsequently, Williams played the song for Haggard in front of some his friends. Prior to this, the couple had a duet session for the song “He Got Big Tears in his Eyes” where Williams got emotional.
One of the most probable reasons for their break-up was Williams’ ambition of becoming more than just a backup singer. This break-up was worsened by her persistent dislike of many people’s view that she prodded aside the celebrated Bonnie Owens. On his autobiography Sing Me Back Home, Haggard stated his confusion over his wife’s agitation. As he said,
“I also resented her struggle to establish her own career. After all, I could offer her a permanent place on the stage with my show. She could even have a segment all her own. What more could she want?”
Despite the unhappy outcome of their marriage, Haggard and Williams both tasted the sweetness of success with the song “You Take Me for Granted.”
Listen to Haggard’s recording of the song below.