Stay with Me

John Weldon Cale was born on December 5, 1938, in Oklahoma City, and he adopted the stage name JJ Cale after it was suggested to him by a Los Angeles club owner, so as to avoid confusion with the Welsh rock musician John Cale.  Clapton recorded two of Cale’s best-known songs, ‘After Midnight’ and ‘Cocaine’ and he took them both to No1.  Cale died aged 74 on July 26 2013 and when Cale passed away, Tom Petty recorded his version of Cale’s ‘Old Man And Me’ and shared vocals with Eric Clapton on Cale’s ‘I Got The Same Old Blues’ and ‘Rock And Roll Records’ on Eric’s album honoring the guitarist and singer-songwriter JJ Cale, The Breeze.  Eric came up with the idea for this 16-song album as an appreciation of JJ Cale during a 12-hour flight to Cale’s funeral.  Clapton discussed the idea at the funeral with Don White, one of the first band leaders to hire Cale, and he invited White to record a song for the album.  Once White was on board, Clapton brought in other musical friends of Cale, including Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, Derek Trucks and John Mayer, with drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Nathan East serving as the rhythm section.

‘Lay Down Sally’ is one of Clapton’s biggest American hits going all the way to #3 in the US, but only charting #39 in the UK. The song crossed over onto the country music charts where it reached a respectable #26, Clapton’s best ever showing in that genre, in April of 1978.  This song came out in 1977 on the Slowhand album and Clapton wrote it in the style of one of his favorite songwriters, the Oklahoma musician J.J. Cale.  The B-side of the single was Clapton’s cover of Cale’s song ‘Cocaine’.  In this song, Clapton tries to convince his lover, a girl named Sally to hang out with him in bed instead of leaving.  He wants Sally to stay with him, not just for the night, as he urges her to never leave.

Marcy Levy, one of Clapton’s backup singers, wrote this with him and sang on it.  She toured with Bob Seger before joining Clapton’s band in 1973.  In 1988, Levy, using the name Marcella Detroit, joined former Bananarama singer Siobhan Fahey to form Shakespear’s Sister.  Also getting a songwriting credit on this track is George Terry, who played guitar on the track and was a member of Clapton’s band.  Depending on who you ask, “Slowhand” was either a nickname given to Clapton by the group’s manager when he was with The Yardbirds (because of his laid-back guitar style), or this nickname was derived from when Clapton would break a guitar string on stage, as the audience would often do a ‘slow hand clap’ while he fixed it.

Clapton became quite the party animal using cocaine which he bought from a dealer who required that he also take a certain amount of smack, as part of the deal.  Clapton was afraid of needles, so he never injected the heroin, instead he snorted it.  By the 1970s, Eric Clapton’s addiction to drugs led to him leading a reclusive lifestyle.  He began staying in his home unless he was obtaining more drugs or performing at benefit concerts.  In 1971, Eric Clapton passed out on stage while performing at the Concert for Bangladesh in Madison Square Garden and at this time he estimated that he was spending $16,000 a week on heroin.  The drug culture that he lived in had impacted his life and spiraled out of control until he was unable to fight the addiction on his own.  Clapton swapped a heroin habit for two bottles of brandy a day, around 1973.

Eric Clapton originally recorded ‘Lay Down Sally’ for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show at the end of his Slowhand ‘77/‘78 tour.  Not quite free of all of his drug and alcohol demons yet, Clapton assembled a backup band that gave him both the freedom both to step forward and control the starlight or sink into the cohesion of being just another member of the band.  From his legendary Derek and the Dominoes band, Clapton recruited bassist Carl Radle, who, along with drummer Jaime Oldacker, held down the rhythm over Clapton’s soaring guitar licks.  Also on board was vocalist Marcy Levy, who allowed Clapton to focus more on his guitar work by covering the more involved vocal harmonies.

Clapton finally got sober in 1987.  Clapton has won 18 Grammy Awards, ranks number two on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time overshadowed only by Jimi Hendrix, and he is the only person inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times.  He is in as a solo artist, as a member of Cream and of The Yardbirds.

There is nothing that is wrong
In wanting you to stay here with me
I know you’ve got somewhere to go
But won’t you make yourself at home and stay with me?
And don’t you ever leave

Lay down, Sally, and rest you in my arms
Don’t you think you want someone to talk to?
Lay down, Sally, no need to leave so soon
I’ve been trying all night long just to talk to you

The sun ain’t nearly on the rise
And we still got the moon and stars above
Underneath the velvet skies
Love is all that matters
Won’t you stay with me?
And don’t you ever leave

Lay down, Sally, and rest you in my arms
Don’t you think you want someone to talk to?
Lay down, Sally, no need to leave so soon
I’ve been trying all night long just to talk to you

I long to see the morning light
Coloring your face so dreamily
So don’t you go and say goodbye
You can lay your worries down and stay with me
And don’t you ever leave

Lay down, Sally, and rest you in my arms
Don’t you think you want someone to talk to?
Lay down, Sally, no need to leave so soon
I’ve been trying all night long just to talk to you

Lay down, Sally, and rest you in my arms
Don’t you think you want someone to talk to?
Lay down, Sally, no need to leave so soon
I’ve been trying all night long just to talk to you

6 thoughts on “Stay with Me

  1. After reading what you wrote about Clapton at the Bangladesh fundraiser, seeing how he was acting on stage makes sense. The GD likes to play long songs doesn’t it. They get into the jam of the song.

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