Tom Petty has been awarded a songwriting credit on Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” which bears a close resemblance to Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” According to The Sun, the deal was settled out of court back in October, but is just coming to light now. Both Petty and singer/composer Jeff Lynne were given a 12.5% writing credit. The song’s full writing credit now lists Smith, Petty, Lynne, and Jimmy Napes as the songwriters. “When Sam’s track was originally released, it was clear to a lot of musicians that there were notable similarities between the tracks,” a source told NME. “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.”
I seriously doubt that there is any negative intent there. And a lot of rock ‘n’ roll songs sound alike. 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.
Compare the two tracks:
UPDATE: A representative for Sam Smith issued the following statement (via Rolling Stone):
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. 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.
A lot of songs sounded like Tom Petty last year. Check out our list of 2014’s Best Tom Petty Albums here.
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty.]