Cam considers songwriting an integral part of her album creation process, so she isn’t usually one to take outside songs. However, her sophomore album, The Otherside, includes two cuts she didn’t have a hand in writing — but two pop names did.
One of those songs is “Happier for You,” written by Sam Smith, Mitchell Rowland and Tyler Johnson, Cam’s main co-writer and producer. It opens with haunting bells, then a mournful, Beatles-esque guitar line that perfect sets up the sob-worthy track.
Cam first heard “Happier for You” out of a cellphone speaker, while at a crowded New York City Italian restaurant. Still, as she remembers, the song proved its power immediately. Below, the singer shares the story of “Happier for You,” in her own words.
I remember the exact moment: I was sitting in New York and Lindsay [Marias], my manager, and I was sitting there at an Italian restaurant. We were there for an event, and we popped over to have a snack.
And her husband, [Tyler Johnson], is my main co-writer [and] producer — we keep it real country, all in the family here. And she got this demo from Tyler saying, like, “I just worked on this with Sam.”
And so the two of us huddled around our phone … both leaning our little ears in in this loud Italian restaurant, and you hear those … chimes come in — like, those bells were already on it … and we were like, [gasps].
We all joke … this song feels like a full meal because it just sets a tone, and then it delivers on the emotions of the lyric, the overall vibe, the soaring vocals — like, the production just feel so right. It’s just, you get exactly what you want out of this song. And so I remember hearing it and sitting there listening to [Smith] singing it.
And, you know, I’ve had the opportunity to write with [them], write for [them], open up for [them], sing with [them], play guitar on a song for [them] — like, I love Sam, and I think [their] superpower is that [they have] these unreal vocals that soar while [they’re] delivering this very precious vulnerability. And it’s just so — it disarms you because you’re like, “Oh, I’m here for a big ol’ song,” and then it’s like … all of a sudden, you’re like, “Oh my God, my heart. What?!” …
That’s why I think it resonated with me. I don’t take outside songs like this normally, and hearing the song, it was like, that doesn’t have to be my story exactly — like, I haven’t shown up to an ex’s wedding in black — but, I have had to understand my feelings around exes moving on. And, you know, having to manage that in myself, and that it’s a sore spot that I think all of us have to figure out.
I love that that’s what music does, when it’s right: All the ingredients hit you in a certain way that it, like, it lights up in you whatever your story is, and I just remember sitting in that little Italian restaurant, and just I felt that little part of my heart that had a little scar on it light up …
I think that kind of even opens a door sometimes, because sometimes if it’s exactly your story, it’s like, you’re not ready for that, you know? But if it’s, like, a little bit coming in through the side, then you’re like, “Oh, I guess I can look at that” — you know, it’s not too scary.
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