Amazon Advent Calendar Day 04: “Stay With Me”

Stay With Me (Single Version)

Lorraine Ellison

Best of Loma Records-Rise and Fall of a 1960’s Soul Label

Genre: Soul

Buy from Amazon MP3: Stay With Me (Single Version)

Utterly remarkable. “Stay With Me Baby” is an utterly, utterly remarkable song.

In fact, this song blows me away to such a degree that only upon a second reading of this opening paragraph do I realize that the word “utterly” means “to the extreme degree,” and therefore duplicating the word emphasizes nothing. Except perhaps my complete indifference towards grammar.

Come to think of it, the word “remarkable” has no varying degrees either. I really ought to just strike the adjectives entirely.

I seem to have wandered off the trail, here.

Well, “Stay With Me Baby” tends to have that effect. This song pits Ms. Lorraine Ellison against a full, forty-piece orchestra…and this woman forces the game into extra innings.

It’s a true landmark. From the first vocal line, Ellison asserts that the world has been missing something for lo these past 6,000 years. But thank God: she’s arrived with this song to correct the oversight. The basic story is a familiar one: man leaves woman, woman begs him to stay. It seems like the song is a healing and cathartic experience for the singer.

And this was no simple trick for her, either. If we may rewind a bit and pick up the baseball metaphor we left behind a paragraph or two ago: there are plenty of high school pitchers who can throw hard, but who have no control or consistency. And plenty more who can knock the eyelash off a hummingbird, but who throw so limply that said bird could comfortably land on the ball, check it for nectar, and then flit away again long before it crossed the plate. Summoning lightning down from the heavens and commanding it to strike precisely where and how you wish it to is a trick that very, very few can pull off…either on the pitcher’s mound or in the recording studio.

To illustrate, I call your attention to another recording of “Stay With Me” that I found while digging up the link to the original. Bette Midler is one hell of a singer, but it’s obvious during this 30-second sample that she’s having tremendous difficulty staying on pitch while projecting that kind of powe.

“Stay With Me” has a bit of a story behind it. Frank Sinatra had booked a studio and a full orchestra to lay down some tracks, but canceled at the last minute. Union rules demanded that the musicians be paid for the whole day whether they played or not. The session producer saw a golden opportunity, and told Ms. Ellison to run, run, run down there.

The track proved to be a true Proof Of Concept for the commercial potential of soul music. Suddenly, people in the music industry who hitherto just didn’t get it…got it. So if “Stay With Me” didn’t win Lorraine Ellison the career that she so clearly deserved, it succeeded in redrawing the map of American music.

Buy it from the Amazon MP3 Store. I get a small kickback and you’ll receive the track as a high-bitrate, unlocked MP3:

Buy from Amazon MP3: Stay With Me (Single Version)

Or, you can buy it from iTunes. That option seems to be very popular among people who use gravy as a hair pomade.

5 thoughts on “Amazon Advent Calendar Day 04: “Stay With Me””

  1. A great pick Andy. If it wasn’t already in my library I would add it.

    Mary Blige transitioned into this song from “Be Without You” in fantastic manner at the Grammy awards. If you search for her Award’s performance of that song on iTunes you should easily find it.

  2. I love this style of music. Thanks for the recommendation – I don’t think I would have found this on my own. Do you get credit if I buy the whole double album?

  3. Great song, and a great story. You’ve started me on a Soul binge. (I bought the whole album too — quite a bargain for about 50 songs, even if they’re not all keepers.)

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