Written by Al Green and guitarist Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, this song was first released on Green's 1972 album I'm Still in Love with You, but wasn't released as a single until 1977 when an edited version landed on the bottom end of the Soul charts at #92 and the Pop charts at #103.
Al Green preaches fidelity in this song:Happiness is when you really feel good with somebody
He didn't follow his own advice: Around this time, he was involved with various women, and in 1974, one of them nearly killed him by pouring hot grits on him in a jealous rage
. After that, Green became more devout and cut back on his philandering.
This song almost didn't make it onto the album. Teenie Hodges remembered: "Usually my songs were the last ones we did. We'd do an album, they'd need one more song to finish, then we'd do my song. 'Love and Happiness' was the last song we cut for that album. We cut it live with Al, and we had a hard time getting the timing right after Al's intro into the song. On the studio version, you can hear me count off the time on a Coke crate that was near my foot."
"'Love and Happiness' was like mixing explosive chemicals," Al Green wrote in his autobiography Take Me the River. "Everything had to be added at just the right time and at just the right dose. The tempo was the most important thing to Willie [Mitchell, producer], and, if you listen close, you can hear Teenie counting off with his foot on a cardboard box for the take that nailed it."
This song was featured on several movie soundtracks, including Nine & 1/2 Weeks (1986), Menace II Society (1993), Mad Dog and Glory (1993), Love & Basketball (2000) and Madea's Family Reunion (2006). It was also used in TV series like The Wire, House, M.D. and Fringe.
This song has been covered by several artists, including Etta James, Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, Graham Central Station, Toots and the Maytals, Lee "Scratch" Perry and Living Colour.
Talking Heads covered this song when they were starting out, but it was another Al Green song, "Take Me To The River
," that became a fixture at their live shows and their first big hit.