The Ironic Reason Why Keith Richards Wrote “Happy”
Sometimes a happy song isn’t about happiness at all—Just like Keith Richards, who wrote The Rolling Stones‘ classic hit “Happy” when he was actually feeling the opposite emotion.
According to the book Keith Richards on Keith Richards: Interviews and Encounters, he explained his songwriting process during a 1986 interview:
“I don’t write songs as a diary. None of them are autobiographical, but in some sense they’re a reaction to certain emotions.”
Richards discussed how sadness inspired “Happy,” a song he co-wrote with Mick Jagger:
“Some of the best songs, some of the happiest ditties in the world come out because you’re feeling exactly the opposite.
“Sometimes you write to counteract that feeling. I was feeling anything but happy when I wrote ‘Happy.’ I wrote ‘Happy’ to make sure there was a word like that and a feeling like that.”
In another interview, Richards shared how singing “Happy” could also make you happy:
“That’s a strange song, because if you play it you actually become happy, even in the worst of circumstances. It has a little magical bounce about it.
“It was just one of those moments that you get that are very happy. And I can play it now and it gives you a lift. I don’t know why except for maybe the word.”
This was the first Stones song to chart with Richards singing lead, and surely, that made him happy.