Less than a week after it was revealed that Sam Smith had agreed to give co-writing credit of his Grammy-nominated single “Stay With Me” to Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne (whose “I Won’t Back Down” shared a similar chorus with the Smith track), Petty has released an amicable statement on his official site clarifying the situation.
“About the Sam Smith thing. Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam,” Petty wrote. “All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by. Sam’s people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement.
“The word lawsuit was never even said and was never my intention. And no more was to be said about it,” Petty continued. “How it got out to the press is beyond Sam or myself. Sam did the right thing and I have thought no more about this. A musical accident no more no less. In these times we live in this is hardly news. I wish Sam all the best for his ongoing career. Peace and love to all.”
The Sun was the first to report that Smith and Petty had quietly reached an agreement on their similar-sounding songs back in October. “Recently the publishers for the song ‘I Won’t Back Down’…contacted the publishers for ‘Stay With Me,’…about similarities heard in the melodies of the choruses of the two compositions,” Smith’s rep said in a statement. “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.”
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While “Stay With Me” has been nominated for three Grammys, Petty and Lynne won’t be eligible for the award as “they did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated,” Senior Vice President of Awards Bill Freimuth said.