Jackson Browne – Stay

5th November 2021 · 1970s, 1977, Doo Wop, Music

Jackson Browne was not the first to record Stay, still the shortest single ever to top the charts, but he made it his own when he covered the doo-wop oldie in 1977.

I was watching a telly drama last night when a young female student mentioned being at a music festival and enjoying a song called Stay, sung by Jackson Browne.

She was quickly ‘corrected’ by another woman, pointing out that the song was originally by Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs.

Leaving aside the question of credibility (Would a student in her early 20s be blown away by a singer in his seventies? Would a woman in her mid-thirties know a doo-wop tune written in the 1950s?) it struck a chord with me.

So I went away to discover the original, written five years before I was born when Maurice was 15, after his date insisted on going home like a good girl at 10 o’clock.

A hit in 1960 – and still the shortest US chart topper of all time at just 96 seconds – it features an incredible falsetto vocal (by Henry Gaston) as does the subsequent version by The Four Seasons (by Frankie Valli) from 1963.

And so does the Jackson Browne version – from his 1977 album Running On Empty – with its clever rearrangement featuring verses in ascending vocal by David Lindley and Rosemary Butler.

I had forgotten just how perfect it is. And I do recommend the BBC drama, Showtrial, about two spoiled rich kids accused of murdering a fellow student in Bristol, with sex-and-drugs overtones (or undertones) of the Meredith Kercher/Foxy Knoxy case.