But the most exciting part was that it was the first song in Sugarland’s career to be written by its lead singer Jennifer Nettles.
“It was just in a couple of sittings on my couch,” Nettles explained. “And once the first line came, ‘I’ve been sitting here staring at the clock on the wall. I’ve been laying here, praying she won’t call,’ the story just unfolded.”
“Stay” helped Nettles earn a Song of the Year award during the 2008 Academy of Country Music Awards, making her the first female artist to hold solo writing credit in this category.
Those Who Cheats Gets Hurt Too
“Stay” tells the tale of a woman who is having an affair with a married man. With her insistence for the man to stay with her, he promised her that he’d soon divorce his wife and finally be with her.
“Why don’t you stay. I’m down on my knees. I’m so tired of being lonely. Don’t I give you what you need. When she calls, you will go. There is one thing you should know. We don’t have to live this way. Baby, why don’t you stay,” the song goes. However, as the song ends, she realizes that the man was never true to his words, so she told him to stay with his wife instead.
Although Nettles has never experienced the song’s narrative, she knew the theme of betrayal is something most people could relate to. Nettles actually got the inspiration from Reba McEntire’s 1986 song, “Whoever’s in New England,” which tells the story of a woman who believes her husband has been cheating on her during his business trips up north.
Nettles knew songs written from such a viewpoint are too many to count; however, she noticed none came from the other two individuals involved. She said most people might not have realized that even those people who are cheating get hurt too.
“Even though the person who is cheating might think he or she is getting away with something, they know they aren’t living their highest truth,” she said. “And they wouldn’t be in the situation if they were just happy-go-lucky in the first place. Nobody is happy in this situation.”
The moment Nettles decided to write the song from the other woman’s viewpoint, emotions never stopped pouring in that the song “Stay” pretty much wrote itself.
The other half of Sugarland, Kristian Bush, also remembered being blown away the very first time he heard the emotional song.
“This is one of those first times when you become like Bob Dylan, where you are writing the character’s story rather than your story,” he said. “And it’s a huge moment, and I am humbled around people who write like this. When I heard that song, I was like,’ Oh, my gosh. This is a heavy hitter of a writer here. This is a monster of a machine that is about to write songs.'”
You can listen to the song below.
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