Lyrics Uncovered: Granger Smith, ‘Happens Like That’
Smith collaborated with Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard on the song, along with Jordan Schmidt, Justin Wilson and Andy Albert. "Happens Like That" came about in no small part because Smith's growing success has afforded him the opportunity to buy a second bus, which has been a "game changer" for his entire writing process. Instead of writing his songs in solitude, he now regularly invites top songwriters on the road so they can write whenever inspiration strikes.
He had invited Schmidt, Wilson and Albert out on the road to write during a time when he was on the road with FGL, which is how Hubbard's participation came about.
"Tyler just craves songwriting," Smith tells Taste of Country. Hubbard didn't have writers out with him at the time, and he asked Smith to text him if he and his collaborators got a song going so that he could join in.
"Happens Like That" started from scratch during a bus writing session, with all of the writers strumming guitars and humming melodies. "It started with the first line, 'You order a drink, it goes down smooth / Before you can blink, it turns into two,'" Smith recalls of starting the lyrics. He called Hubbard as soon as he realized they were onto a song.
"About 30 seconds later, he was walking on the bus," he recounts. "Instantly he sits down, he puts on his reading glasses, types some lyrics out on his phone and starts studying the way that we're saying things, suggesting if we rephrased a couple of things, change a syllable here, and it started becoming a better song. The way that he can look at a piece, turn two lines around, switch a word out, maybe change a phrase ... I think that's what he's bringing to the table."
We can take liberties sonically and with melodies and grooves, but I need my story to be consistent.
That's particularly obvious in the way the melody and the "Happens Like That" lyrics sit cleanly over the bed track of the song. Smith says that strong sense of editing down to the cleanest form was especially important.
"The neat thing about this group is that everybody is a lyricist. Some of the guys are better at the fast words, some of the guys are better at the deeper meaning of what the lines are, and some of the guys are better at the poetry of it, the singability of it," he observes. "And everybody has different melodies in their heads, so you bring those melodies together and you get a pretty fun song."
The "Happens Like That" lyrics describe a romance that begins with a chance meeting and "turns into one knee down with a diamond ring" — not unlike how Smith met his wife, Amber, on the set of the music video for his song "Don't Listen to the Radio" in 2009.
"It happens like that / Out of the blue sky, lost in her blue eyes / It happens like that / Nothin' to lose turns right into you / Doing all that you can just to keep her around / 'Til the moon goes down and you're back at your house / One thing leads to another, you're lovin' each other / One look and you never look back / It happens like that," Smith sings in the sweeping chorus.
The bed track and melody are a step in a more radio-ready, progressive country direction, and Smith acknowledges that's all part of a larger game plan to expand his career and gain more fans. But he's also careful not to reach too far and alienate the core audience that has helped him build his career nationally.
"For me, that's 95 percent of my conversation," Smith affirms. "The fans and our original listeners are what got me to where I am now. They're the ones who got me in the position of having airplay with 'Backroad Song.' If it wasn't for them buying that song and listening to the albums before that, there's a pretty good argument that we wouldn't have had a record deal and radio play, etc. So I always want to make sure that the story I'm telling in the song is me. That stays consistent. We can take liberties sonically and with melodies and grooves, but I need my story to be consistent."
"Happens Like That" is the first single from Smith's next album, which he says is halfway complete. Following up the breakthrough success of his last album, Remington — which scored a No. 1 hit with "Backroad Song" and a Top 5 with "If the Boot Fits" — he hopes it will not only introduce him to an ever broader audience, it will also fill a hole in his all-important live shows.
"It is different from everything else that we do right now onstage," Smith says. "That's important to me to have a moment where I can just go down and start with just me and my guitar, and then when the chorus comes in, the lights hit and everybody's engaged. So that's a moment that I'm looking forward to that we don't have right now."
"Happens Like That" is now available for download and streaming.
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