Sam Williams and Dolly Parton Team Up for ‘Happy All the Time’

Check out this thought-provoking duet, and the story behind it.

Written by Chris Parton
Sam Williams and Dolly Parton Team Up for ‘Happy All the Time’
Sam Williams; Photo credit: Alexa King; Dolly Parton; Photo courtesy of Dolly Parton on Facebook

The queen of country and one of its royal princes join forces on “Happy All the Time,” as Sam Williams and Dolly Parton offer a stunning new duet full of soul.

As the son of country-rock icon Hank Williams Jr. (and grandson of Hank Sr.), Williams may be part of a famous bloodline in country music, but he’s an artist with his own vision. And on his new single, Parton pledges her allegiance.

A thought-provoking ballad about true wealth — the kind that money and fame can’t buy — “Happy All the Time” features a weary vocal blend and deep message, one that pushes the boundaries of mainstream country. It finds Williams searching for meaning and peace of mind in a crazy world, and comes off his upcoming Glasshouse Children album — which itself finds the 24-year-old making his debut in an industry his family helped create. But according to him, he still can’t believe it’s happening.

Speaking with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, Williams says “Happy All the Time” and Parton’s involvement boosted his artistic confidence.

“I had the song done about two years ago, so I was only 21 years old, and someone of her stature to forehead stamp me like that, I just couldn’t believe it,” Williams explains. “It’s just so awesome for country music, for the queen of everything, a legend like that to embrace someone so new, a little bit left of center, it’s just amazing, and I still can’t believe it. I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking to you right now.”

Williams went on to explain that he and Mary Gauthier co-wrote the song with a simple-yet-complex question in mind: What if money could buy happiness? Would people actually buy it, or continue on like always? Williams wrote the lyrics down as part of a two-page letter and sent it to Parton, asking for her blessing, and he thinks the message must have resonated with her.

“I wanted to just bring a new outlook to it,” he says of the track. “It’s clear that she identified with that message that after this empire that I’ve built, and the lives I’ve been able to touch, and all of the amazing things I’ve been able to accomplish, I know that I could still be happy if I was just in the mountains in east Tennessee with my family. That is just amazing to me.”

Whatever the reason for her support, Parton’s support clearly means a lot to Sam Williams. You can hear more about the collaboration in the video above, and hear more of his intriguing take on country music here.