Songs You May Have Missed #368

stay with meLorraine Ellison: “Stay With Me” (1966)

“Stay With Me” was one of the great soul hits of the 60’s that wasn’t, like Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep-Mountain High”, the commercial flop which Phil Spector believed to be his masterpiece.

Lorraine Ellison recorded for the Loma record label, a small, cash poor sublabel of Warner Bros. and home for a time to such artists as the aforementioned Ike and Tina, The Three Degrees, J.J. Jackson, and Linda Jones, who died between matinee and evening shows at the Apollo Theater. For the background story on “Stay With Me”, which peaked at #64 on the pop chart, I quote Leo Sacks in his liner notes from the Best of Loma Records compilation:

“There is a popular wisdom that you have to suffer to really sing,” (songwriter and producer Jerry) Ragovoy says. “I don’t buy it.” But “Stay With Me” came from deep inside Lorraine Ellison’s being. An unlikely chain of events preceded that memorable performance. Frank Sinatra was supposed to record with a 45-piece orchestra. But the Chairman of the Board backed out of the session, so Warners, obligated to the musicians’ union, asked Ragovoy to fill the time. Forty-eight hours later he walked into A&R Studios with string and horn charts that were downright supernatural. The room was packed wall-to-wall with ready-to-wail musicians; Ragovoy can still feel the joy and the awe unleashed as Ellison torched “Stay With Me” in one take: “Our engineer, Phil Ramone, kept saying, ‘Oh my God, oh my God…'”

But God wasn’t on her side after that night. “Stay With Me” was a crushing flop. Ellison was devastated…

ellisonLorraine Ellison (March 17, 1931 – January 31, 1983)

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rose
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 22:28:22

    Am I out of line, or does she sound like Janice?


  2. Rose
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 12:45:58

    I don’t know if she sounds JUST like her, but when I listened to the song, it made me think of Janis. “Take another little piece of my heart” came to mind.
    Don’t feel like you have to agree with me, though. I love the opposition!!!


    • Ed Cyphers
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 12:51:52

      Ok, I’ll agree with that–it’s certainly Janis’ kind of song. And it does remind me of “Piece of my Heart” now that you mention it.

      (Hope that’s not too non-oppositional)


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