Sharp-eared listeners have been pointing out the melodic similarities between Sam Smith’s breakout solo hit “Stay With Me” and Tom Petty’s 1989 hit “I Won’t Back Down” since the former dropped last spring. Apparently one of them was Petty himselfU.K. paper The Sun reports that the classic rocker and Smith settled a lawsuit out of court last fall that gives Petty and his “I Won’t Back Down” songwriting partner, ELO frontman Jeff Lynne, 12.5 percent of the royalties from “Stay With Me.”
A rep for Smith says, “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.”
As Consequence of Sound points out, Petty and Lynne have already been given songwriting credit through the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. “Stay With Me” has sold more than 4 million copies to date.