Tom Petty says that the similarities between I Won’t Back Down and Sam Smith’s Stay With Me were entirely “accidental.” The musician is receiving royalties from last year’s hit song due to the similarities. The matter was settled in October 2014 out of court.
Petty and Jeff Lynne both receive royalties due to Smith’s song sounding so similar to I Won’t Back Down, released in 1989. However, the musician did say on his own website that he has no hard feelings. He understands that music can sound so similar, and he is using his own experience in song writing over the years. In most cases, the similarities are caught and changed before they get out of the studio.
There are a handful of times that these types of accidents happen. Smith is certainly not the only singer to be faced with a lawsuit over the sounds. He also understands the situation he found himself in, and it helped them come to an agreement quickly. According to Petty, he never threatened a lawsuit and it was not his intention. He still had no idea how news of the settlement got out to the press.
The 1989 musician went on to explain that it is not even news, especially for the times. He wanted to wish the young singer all the success in the world, and thanked him for doing the right thing. The similarities between Smith’s song and his own were purely “accidental,” and he does not think about it anymore.
The situation is ongoing for others though. Lynne and Petty are now credited as song co-writers, with James Napier, William Phillips and Smith. Stay With Me has since been nominated for Grammy Awards. However, the senior vice president of the academy, Bill Freimuth, says that the two original writers should not receive the awards. Any Grammys won will be credited to Smith and co., since the other two did not do any new writing for the song. Lynne and Petty will only receive certificates for their participation.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. In the past, any song that has been interpolated or used as samples that received a Grammy was not awarded to the original writer. The awards were only given to the writers of the actual song that was created for the award.
Smith has also found himself in another legal battle, this time with an unknown song writer. Katie Farrah Sopher claims that the singer and Eliza Doolittle used lyrics from her own songbook. The song was about Sean Sawyers, her violent ex-boyfriend. Sopher is claiming over £200,000 for damages due to the use of the lyrics in four songs, including You and Me and White Noise. Smith denies these allegations, saying there is “zero truth” to the claims.
The singer is focusing on his own music right now, while also getting ready for the Grammy Awards. He has proven to be honest when it comes to genuine issues, and settled out of court with Petty. Petty continues to believe that the similarities in Smith’s song Stay With Me with his own were just “accidental.”
By Alexandria Ingham
Photo by WFUV – Flickr License