Tom Petty might not back down, but Sam Smith clearly knows how to concede graciously. When Smith released the plaintive ballad “Stay With Me” last spring, ahead of its appearance on the British crooner’s hit debut album, In the Lonely Hour, comment sections quickly filled up with comparisons to the melody of Petty’s 1989 single “I Won’t Back Down.” Now, Petty and his co-writer on the Full Moon Fever track, Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne, share songwriting credit for the track.
Petty and Lynne’s names appear alongside those of Smith and his co-writers James Napier (aka Jimmy Napes) and William Phillips in the digital booklet for the recently released 2015 Grammy Nominees compilation. However, when the Grammys nominated “Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)” for Song of the Year, the Recording Academy listed only Smith, Napier and Phillips. That’s how the song was credited in the original album release liner notes, as well.
According to U.K. publication Music Business Worldwide, which cites unnamed sources, Petty and Lynne each got 12.5 percent of the credit for the song beginning in October. MBW reports, “We’re told that Smith’s camp nobly held their hands up when the inspirational value of Petty’s original was pointed out.”
A source speaking to U.K. tabloid The Sun (via NME) made a similar point. “When Sam’s track was originally released, it was clear to a lot of musicians that there were notable similarities between the tracks,” the unidentified person said. “After it was pointed out to Sam’s camp, they didn’t try to fight it and amicably dished out royalties. It wasn’t a deliberate thing, musicians are just inspired by other artists and Sam and his team were quick to hold up their hand when it was officially flagged.”
In the Lonely Hour has sold more than 1 million copies apiece in the United Kingdom and the United States. Along with Song of the Year, “Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)” is also up for Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. The full-length received nods for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Hypnotic Eye debuted at No. 1 on last year on the Billboard 200, becoming their first album to top the chart. It’s nominated for Best Rock Album at the Grammys. The 57th annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, February 8.
Listen to “Stay With Me” and “I Won’t Back Down” below; either way, Petty gets a check.