Sam Smith is up for several Grammy awards Sunday night, and a lot of the buzz hinges on one song: “Stay With Me.” Last fall, Smith settled a lawsuit with Tom Petty and his co-writer Jeff Lynne over the song’s similarities to Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” As a result, Smith has to give 12.5 percent of the royalties from “Stay With Me” to Petty and Lynne.
Now Sam Smith is telling a CBC News reporter he had never heard the Tom Petty song. Released in 1989, the 22-year-old Smith was not even alive when the song first came out.
“It was a complete accident. I am 22 years old… I’ve never listened to that song.”
He also revealed to CBC how he and his co-writers, James Napier and William Phillips, came to create “Stay With Me,” and his reaction when he discovered the Tom Petty song.
“I just go into the studio, and ‘Stay With Me’ was me just writing a song about me sleeping with too many people, and wishing they would stay over. That was my mindset when I was writing that song, and I was very shocked to find out that the melody was similar, because again, I am 22 and I’ve never heard the song.”
Smith said Petty reached out to him personally. There were no hard feelings between the artists.
“It was never a malicious thing. And we [all] tried to deal with it in a very classy way.”
The similarities between the two songs are evident with only slight modifications to both tracks, as this YouTube video demonstrates.
Smith is up for six Grammy awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year, both for “Stay With Me.” Three Grammy voters anonymously revealed to Entertainment Weekly their Grammy picks in major categories, and Smith seems poised to do well. A voter dubbed as “The Producer” chose “Stay With Me” as Record of the Year.
“I know a lot of people are going to vote for ‘Shake It Off’ or ‘Fancy,’ but I love ‘Stay With Me.’ I just like that it was so quiet. It was this cool, classy record. It had so much impact.”
That same voter also chose “Stay With Me” as Song of the Year while giving props to Taylor Swift, who is also nominated in the same category.
“I knew [‘Stay With Me’] was a winner when my 4-year-old was singing it in the back of the car. I [also] like ‘Shake It Off.’ I think people who say they’re not a fan of Taylor Swift are lying.”
[UPDATE: Sam Smith won several Grammys Sunday night, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Stay With Me.”]
[Sam Smith image via 604now.com]