Happy People

Album: The Breaker (2017)

Songfacts®:

  • This Lori McKenna ("Girl Crush") and Hailey Whitters penned song opens Little Big Town's seventh studio album, The Breaker. The feel-good track is full of wisdom about what it takes to be happy people.

    Happy people don't cheat
    Happy people don't lie
    They don't judge, or hold a grudge, don't criticize
    Happy people don't hate
    Happy people don't steal
    Cause all the hurt sure ain't worth all the guilt they feel


    "'Happy People' setting off the record, to me, is the perfect sentiment for what's going on in the world right now, and the things that are important, for us, anyway," Karen Fairchild said at a press event in Nashville. "I hope it brings some happiness to people right now in what feels like a very chaotic time."
  • Band member Phillip Sweet says this is a song about how you can't rely on others to make you happy. "It's a hopeful song, and it's really perfect for where the world is right now," he told Entertainment Weekly. "It seems like we're in a gigantic swirl of chaos."
  • In a Songfacts interview with Hailey Whitters, she explained how this song came together. "It was my first time writing with Lori McKenna," she said. "I went up to Boston, where she lives, and got out of Nashville. I like to go up a day early and just get settled, so I did that. I had never been to Boston, so I went walking around the city and realized very quickly it's a very expensive city. I was just a broke songwriter at this time, so I went to the park - I can't remember what park it was, but it was a beautiful, lush park in the center of what seems such a bustling city. And it felt like walking into that park, everything just kind of slowed down. There were couples sitting on blankets, dogs running and children laughing, and it was just this really serene slow-down in the middle of this big, bustling city. I just sat there and people-watched and felt the energy, and that title popped into my head. I logged it down in my catalog of ideas and the next day when I was writing with Lori I threw that title out to her and we just started writing that."
  • Hailey Whitters was just 22 years old when she co-penned the song, but Lori McKenna thinks the young songwriter is wise beyond her years. "She's one of six kids, and she's one of those kids that just gets it," McKenna told The Boot. "That song, you know, when we got to the end of it, she had said part of the chorus that talks about, like, 'You're never going to be happy by taking someone else's away.' And that was something she had said, and I sat in the room that day just so overwhelmed by how much she got it. I don't even know if she knew how smart she was yet."

    "When we get to the end of the song, it seems like it would just end on a chorus, because the chorus is so fun and all that, but we just wanted to wrap it up that way," McKenna added. "The bottom line is, everybody deserves to be happy. [Laughs.] Sometimes we overthink that. And we tried to make the song as simple as we could."
  • McKenna later included her own version of the song on her 2018 album The Tree; Whitters put her version on her 2020 album The Dream.
  • Lori McKenna was established as a top songwriter, but for her co-writer on this track, Hailey Whitters, it was a big break. Whitters found out a few days after writing it that Little Big Town was interested in recording it. It got better from there: Whitters got to attend the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2017, where she saw LBT perform her song. "It was a very validating feeling after so many years of wondering if I was on the right path and if I was ever going to see the light at the end of the tunnel," she told Songfacts.

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