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Story Behind the Song: Thomas Rhett, ‘Die a Happy Man’

Thomas Rhett wrote “Die a Happy Man,” his fifth consecutive No. 1 single, with Sean Douglas and Joe Spargur, but the tune’s inspiration is all Rhett. While on the road, the singer wanted to pen a love song for his wife Lauren — and the guys quickly came up with the romantic track. Below, the three men share the story behind the song.

Rhett: We were on a bus in Little Rock, Ark., and I was just starting to get into my last, final stages of writing for [the Tangled Up album]; I had already cut about six songs for that record.

I remember going out and my wife just really encouraging me to write. She’s always wanted me to write like a “Just to See You Smile” by Tim McGraw. Even though “Die a Happy Man” and that song sound nothing alike, the sentiment is the same. I looked back and was like, “I’ve never just written a song about my wife or for my wife.”

The two other guys who wrote it, one of them has a girlfriend, and the other one is married. So we all just took collaborative ideas and came up with the song “Die a Happy Man.” I think the reason it translated so much is because every single line in the song is directly personal to our relationship and our marriage. I think my fans looked at that and saw it as very genuine, which it was, and I think that’s the reason it was so successful. It was one of the most fun songs I ever got to write.

Douglas: It was the first day. We woke up in the morning, rolled out of the bunk and came out. Three guys, having coffee, essentially still in our underwear, talking about how we had written these frivolous but fun tunes before, and talking about our beautiful wives and … talking about wanting to write something that might last for a minute, that might make an emotional impact on somebody, that might become something they might want to play at their wedding someday.

People get into rooms every day and write and talk about what they want to do and what kind of tune they want to do. It’s very seldom that three, or however many, people can actually agree on what they want to do and even more seldom that they actually agree and then do it, and that it actually goes on and sees the light of day and actually does anything. So we happened to all be on that romantic wavelength that morning, and it worked out.

Spargur: When Thomas played it that night, me and Sean were looking at each other like, “My God, is he going to remember the words? This is so nerve-wracking.” But I think after he played the song that night, we just always knew the song was special, and to see it do what it’s done is just incredible and amazing.

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