PETTY THEFT!* Does Sam Smith owe a “writing credit” to Tom Petty?


*Not my gag – apparently there is a Tom Petty tribute band out there calling themselves this. Genius and current. You can run yourself ragged trying to be current ….

Maelstrom. Copyright 2015
Maelstrom. Copyright 2015

Right outta the blue a statement from Tom Petty appears on my radar: http://www.tompetty.com/blog/statement-tom-petty-423041 which was really my first inkling that something was adrift in the cosmos; that Tom Petty, wasn’t happy.

Really, Tom Petty? Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me (2014)” is so similar to “I Won’t Back Down (1988)” that you’re going to have to insist on a writing credit and, I can only assume, all the other credits that go with it (I mean to say, why would you “pass” on the royalties after all that kerfuffle?)

Well, we didn’t see that coming at Vortex HQ, and neither did Sam Smith, so the story goes. Most of the noise on the net suggests that Smith’s camp said something along the lines of: Sure thing, Tom Petty (whoever you are?), we’ll throw an ageing rocker a bone. Even though we (me and my team of myriad songwriters) have never, ever, EVER heard “I Won’t Back Down” before, our songs do sound awful samey when you speed one up, put t’other in reverse and transpose all the chords to end up in the same key.

Don’t take their word for it! Hear it for yourselves. Some kind soul going around town by the name of envanligfjant has thrown together this demo for us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkcZV97O3pw

Now, as some of you are well aware, I’m of a late eighties sensibility. So it was only when my “Cramps” (R.I.P. Lux Interior) cassette had been chewed for the umpteenth time in the VW Golf of Doom (actually, the VW Golf of Doom was totalled in ’86 so it would have been the Dawn of the Unreliable Volvo in ’88), that I may have had occasion to smoke’n’drive along to “I Won’t Back Down”. High probability of air-banjo at the lights.

Somewhat catastrophically, the mists of motherhood (among many other mists) had filed Petty’s vital song away for safe-keeping. I can swear with my hand-on-heart that I have not recalled “I Won’t Back Down” from that day to this – such are my filing skills. Until ….Tom Petty and his Statements brought it again to my attention.

What does it all mean? There’s no such thing as a free lunch? But whose buffet is it? The Smith Buffet; with a help yourself to a writing credit bar & I’ll pick up the silverware (“Stay With Me” is now up for “Song of the Year” at the Grammys, unlike “I Won’t Back Down” which spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Charts and peaked at number 12) or the Petty Buffet; small servings of a generic salad which you can dress up any way you like, but you gotta admit brother – it’s still my f*ckin salad.

Where will you be dining?

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4 thoughts on “PETTY THEFT!* Does Sam Smith owe a “writing credit” to Tom Petty?

    • Hi Mum! Series not quite as captivating as the book, so far, but in this week’s episode (#3) it looks like the action is starting to hot up. I agree, books were marvelous. Love you xx

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