It was only after penning this ballad that Cash felt she could write proper songs. She recalled to American Songwriter magazine: "When I was 18, I had gone on the road with Dad. I was trying to make my songs rhyme and trying to muddle through on the forms of songs I had inherited. Then, I wrote 'This Has Happened Before'; I remember working so hard on that song and realizing that it didn't have to fit all those forms I was trying to force on it; that was the moment that I felt like could do this."
"I wrote that one when I was in Germany," Cash told Alanna Nash, author of Behind Closed Doors: Talking with the Legends of Country Music. "I was making my first record, for Ariola, which wasn't released here. And I was so depressed. I was living in Munich for two months, just way from everybody, and I laid on the floor for nine hours and wrote it. (Laughter) I was missing Rodney [Crowell], too. We had a fledgling romance going."
It really was so easy for Linda Ronstadt to score a hit with her Buddy Holly cover of "It's So Easy." She would sometimes change the lyric to: "It's so easy to have a hit, all you have to do is recycle it."