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Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Song "Stay" by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs

After Baby Houseman gets $250 from her father, she brings it to the employees' bunkhouse and gives it to Penny Johnson. When she enters the bunkhouse, the employers are dancing to a recording of the song "Stay" performed by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs.

The song is slow, and the lyrics are simple.
Stay, just a little bit longer.
Please, please, please, please, please,
Tell me you're going to.

Now, your daddy don't mind,
And your mommy don't mind,
If we have another dance,
Just one more,
One more time.

Oh, won't you stay
Just a little bit longer?
Please let me hear
You say that you will.

Won't you press your sweet lips
To mine?
Won't you say you love me
All of the time?

Come on, come on,
Come on and stay!
Because the song is slow, the audience watches leisurely as Baby wanders among the dancers while looking for Penny.

The song's remark that your daddy won't mind resonates with Johnny's remark about the money's source.
It takes a real saint to ask Daddy.
The money is refused, so Baby might have walked away with it. However, Baby stays and persists, and gradually a decision is made that Penny will take the money and Baby will replace Penny as a dancer for the Sheldrake performance.


The Wikipedia article about the song Stay includes the following passages:
"Stay" is a doo-wop song written by Maurice Williams and first recorded in 1960 by Williams with his group the Zodiacs. Commercially successful recordings were later also issued by both the Hollies and the Four Seasons.

The song was written by Williams in 1953 when he was 15 years old. He had been trying to convince his date not to go home at 10 o'clock as she was supposed to. He lost the argument, but as he was to relate years later, "Like a flood, the words just came to me."

In 1960, the song was put on a demo by Williams and his band, the Zodiacs. ... The band's producers took it along with some other demos to New York City and played them for all the major record producers that they could access. Finally, Al Silver of Herald Records became interested, but insisted that the song be re-recorded as the demo's recording levels were too low.

They also said that one line, "Let's have another smoke" would have to be removed in order for the song to be played on commercial radio.

After the group recorded the tune again, it was released by Herald Records. ... It entered the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on October 9, 1960, and reached the number one spot on November 21, 1960. ... On the Herald recording, Williams sang lead and Henry Gaston sang the falsetto counter-verse.

The original recording of "Stay" remains the shortest single ever to reach the top of the American record charts, at 1 minute 36 seconds in length. By 1990, it had sold more than 8 million copies. It received a new lease of popularity after being featured on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.
The Wikipedia article about Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs includes the following passages:
Maurice Williams was born 26 April 1938 in Lancaster, South Carolina. His first experience with music was in the church, where his mother and sister both performed. By the time he was six, Williams was performing regularly there. With his childhood friend Earl Gainey, Williams formed the gospel group the Junior Harmonizers. ...

In the winter of 1956, while still in high school, Williams and his band traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, to record for the Excello label. ...

The song "Little Darlin'" was a #11 hit on the Rhythm and Blues chart in 1957, but did not break the Billboard Hot 100's Top 40. However, when it was covered by the Canadian group the Diamonds, it moved up to #2.

Williams finished high school and while on the road with the band, their station wagon broke down in Bluefield, West Virginia. The band came across a British-built Ford car known as the Zodiac (a 'luxury' version of the Ford Zephyr built in Britain, Australia and New Zealand) and changed their name. ...

In the early summer of 1959, the band recorded in a Quonset Hut on Shakespeare Road in Columbia. The recording engineer, Homer Fesperman, recorded several tracks that the band had hoped would fetch them a hit. One of the last tracks that they recorded that day was "Stay", a song that Williams had written a couple of weeks before. Williams sang lead and Henry Gaston sang the counter-verse falsetto.

After taking the demo of "Stay" to Al Silver at Herald Records in New York City, the song was pressed and released in early 1960. ....

At the end of 1963, the British band the Hollies covered "Stay", which gave the group their debut Top Ten hit single in the UK, peaking at No.8 in January 1964, three years after the Zodiacs' version had peaked at No.14 on the U.K. charts (January 1961). Later versions of "Stay", by the Four Seasons (1964) and Jackson Browne (1978), reached the Top 20 in the U.S., each selling over one million copies in the United States alone.

The inclusion of the Zodiacs' "Stay" on the soundtrack to the film Dirty Dancing in 1987 led to the song selling more records than it had during its original release.

A 1965 recording by the group, "May I", released by Vee Jay Records and Dee-Su Records, became, over the years, another million-selling record.

Williams continued recording, touring, and releasing music through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. He is still active in the music industry, residing in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010. He also made several performances for the PBS "Doo Wop 50" show series in 2001.
The following video shows Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs performing the song on the Village Square television show in the early 1960s.

In the following video, Williams tells about how he wrote the song.

If you can't play the video here, go there.


Jackson Browne made the song a big hit again in his 1977 album Running on Empty. That is my own strongest memory of the song. My family had that album, and we played it often.


The song was featured in the 1989 movie Shag.


In the following video the Dirty Dancing Team performs the song at the Park View Restaurant in Rotherham, England.

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