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Lessons for songwriters from Sam Smith’s Grammy Song of the Year – Stay With Me

You’ve probably been hearing a lot of Sam Smith’s song STAY WITH ME that took out the 2015 Grammy Awards song of the year.

Sam smith grammys

While I am more into The Smiths than Sam Smith, I can appreciate the song’s appeal and I think the song has lessons for all songwriters.

1. Simplicity. Sure Sam gets to show off his vocal range – yet the song itself is very simple – simple chords and simple arrangement. Listen to how simple the accompanying piano is – just simple block chords – that play and hang there – not overly ornate arpeggios.

I understand the controversy about the similarity to Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down. I’ll have to study further if Sam was even familiar with Tom Petty’s music – especially given the age difference. I know there’s been plenty written about the similarity between the songs of the basic chord structure and phrasing.

My main message to songwriters: don’t be afraid to write simply – aim for simplicity

2. the old Specific Verse/General Chorus technique.

Most people get hooked by a chorus first. The Chorus is so simple and general. I imagine people from all different types of backgrounds and situations could relate to the sentiment of wanting someone to stay – and not just romantic situations. Sam appeals to a basic and broad human craving.

The verse gives the more specific context and develops the “story”.

So songwriters: keep the chorus simple AND general. Develop the more “specific” parts in the verses.

3. Sincerity. Sam’s sincerity really shines through in his lyrics AND his delivery.

In his acceptance speech Sam thanked the man who broke his heart and inspired his music.

My wife commented that she’d now listen to the song again from a different angle she hadn’t considered before.

I’m writing this post from my perspective of what I like about the song.

Please share your views in the comments section below – what you like about it – OR if you don’t like it.

Here’s a link to the song:

and here’s a link to BBC coverage about Sam:

BBC – Sam Smith win

and a link to: the NY Daily News coverage:

NY Daily News coverage



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This entry was posted on February 10, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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