Sam Smith’s Stay With Me is coincidentally similar enough to I Won’t Back Down to pay Tom Petty royalties

If you can’t get the hook Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” out of your head, the reason may be that it was deeply inspired by Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Although the writers of Smith’s song claim that they’ve never heard Petty’s song before (what? how could that have happened?) both parties have come to an agreement to pay Petty and composer Jeff Lynne 12.5% of the royalties for the hit song.

“Recently the publishers for the song ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, contacted the publishers for ‘Stay With Me,’ written by Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips, about similarities heard in the melodies of the choruses of the two compositions,” Smith’s rep told Rolling Stone. “Not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song, the writers of ‘Stay With Me’ listened to ‘I Won’t Back Down’ and acknowledged the similarity. Although the likeness was a complete coincidence, all involved came to an immediate and amicable agreement in which Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne are now credited as co-writers of ‘Stay With Me’ along with Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips.”

Petty seems to have no bad feelings about the similarity. “I seriously doubt that there is any negative intent there. And a lot of rock ’n’ roll songs sound alike,” the rock icon said in a statement. “Ask Chuck Berry. The Strokes took ’American Girl’ [for their song ‘Last Nite’], and I saw an interview with them where they actually admitted it. That made me laugh out loud. I was like, ’OK, good for you’ … If someone took my song note for note and stole it maliciously, then maybe [I’d sue]. But I don’t believe in lawsuits much. I think there are enough frivolous law suits in this country without people fighting over pop songs.”

Hmm, wonder if he’s getting royalties for “Last Nite?”

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