“Happy on the Hey Now (A Song for Kristi)” by Kenny Chesney
First off let this be established – the Hey Now is actually a boat. So when Kenny Chesney refers to being “happy on the Hey Now”, he’s talking about pleasant experiences he had on that boat – which by the way is docked in a city called Cruz Bay, on an island called St. John, which is part of the US Virgin Islands.
Who is Kristi?
Now the titular “Kristi” would actually be a lady by the name of Kristi Lynn Hansen (1976-2012). She was a friend of Kenny’s whom he used to spend time with on the aforementioned boat. And more to the point, she is someone whom he admired very much due to her genuine zest for life. She passed away, at the age of 35, as the result of a brain aneurysm. And in the aftermath of that unexpected tragedy, Chesney was compelled to write and record this song.
In terms of his relationship with Kristi, they both shared a group of mutual friends whom they all used to hang out together in St. John. And it is these individuals whom the singer references in the first verse when he sings about the addressee’s (i.e. Kristi’s) ability to ‘always bring them together’. He also remembers her beauty, specifically her smile and the color of her eyes. Also it’s pretty obvious that just being on the island itself makes him remember Kristi. And he classifies her as someone he’s “glad” he got the opportunity to know in life.
The Narrator still mourns Kristi’s Demise
In the second verse, Kenny lets it be known that he, as well as Kristi’s other friends, are still mourning her passing. He also believes that ‘someday they’ll see her again’, which reads as if he is referring to their souls reconnecting in the afterlife. And once again, as alluded to in the first verse, he implies that whenever he is having pleasant, beautiful experience on the island he cannot help but to think about his departed friend.
Indeed in the bridge he gets straight to the point. He and Kristi’s mutual “circle of friends” are ‘sad that she’s gone’. And accordingly, they commemorate her life. One way is by recounting the times that she was around. And another is via “a song”, i.e. this very track. So we can say that in terms of missing Kristi, Chesney is not only singing on his own behalf but also that of their aforementioned friends. And he feels that the spirit of Kristi, so to speak, ‘will keep them strong’ throughout this emotional ordeal.
Chorus for “Happy on the Hey Now (A Song for Kristi)”
Meanwhile the chorus has him asserting that Kristi “will never die”. Within the context of the song, what this statement actually means is that memories of and love for her will forever remain in the hearts of her loved ones, such as Kenny himself. Indeed we can even say that the singer sometimes sees visions, if you will, of Kristi. And as the song suggests, his fondest memories of his departed friend centered on her appreciation of life which was most-pointedly manifest, in his eyes, on the Hey Now.
So obviously he is grieving. In fact “Happy on the Hey Now” can very easily be classified as a bereavement song. But at the same time, as the concluding sentiment of the track indicates, he also feels fortunate that he had a friend who positively touched his life in a such remarkable way.
Kenny Chesney talks about “Happy On The Hey Now”
Kenny Chesney admitted that this was a very-challenging song for him to record. It was not written in the same uplifted spirit as some of his other tunes. And his emotional disposition at the time he dropped it reflected that reality.
And as we mentioned earlier, he and Kristi were actually part of what he describes as a “circle of friends”. But she was actually the most-outstanding member of the entire group. She was the one whom he described being “the epitome of living in the moment”. And those of you who know people like that also know that their zeal for life can oft be infectious.
Along that same vein, Kenny believes that we all knew “a special person” who died prematurely. When such incidences transpire, it often causes those who are left behind to develop profound existential queries. And that is the effect the passing of Kristi Hansen had on him, one where he was compelled to “re-evaluate everything”, especially his relationships with his loved ones.
But at the end of the day, the reason this individual’s passing had affected him so is because the uniqueness of her character. Indeed Kenny described Kristi as someone who was “good at life”, just as some people are naturally exceptional in a particular skill or profession. So all things, including this song, considered, we know that if nothing else Kenny Chesney lost someone who was very dear to his heart.
This song was written by Kenny Chesney, who also co-produced it along with one of his regular collaborators, Buddy Cannon.
Release Date of “Happy on the Hey Now (A Song for Kristi)”
It was originally released, by Warner Nashville, on 30 April 2013 as part of Kenny Chesney’s album “Life on a Rock”. And the song also made an appearance on his 2017 live album, “Live in No Shoes Nation”.