Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Bells -- "Stay Awhile" (1971)

Once a year, an early 70's piece of fluff comes on the radio that causes such personal revulsion and such disbelief in its inanity, that I will actually listen to the whole thing in very much the way people check out car crashes on the side of the highway. It's a rarely-played song that happened to play this morning over XM Radio's 70's channel on my drive to the train station. I had to remind myself that this song actually was a hit.

And that song is The Bells' "Stay Awhile."

This is not one of those things that is "so bad, it's good." It's just bad.

"Stay Awhile" was one of the bigger soft rock horndog hits at the time, a duet of a girl and a boy having the most sensitive caring sex of their lives. Sylvia's "Pillow Talk" was probably even steamier," but it at least had slightly more redeeming value (just slightly).

When "Stay Awhile" comes on, you feel like you should be lighting scented candles, hanging posters of kittens and sunsets on the walls, and popping the bottle of wine you've been hiding in the fridge. It's all soft acoustic guitar arpeggios, piano chords, fizzy cymbal rolls, finger chimes, and light drums with a rimshot keeping the beat. As a matter of fact, the volume level of the whole song is defiantly low, like it was made to be played when seducing the chick in the dorm room next door.

The girl starts first, whispering in the most come hither voice made for phone porn you've heard on a song, and you're half expecting her to break into a giggle. Every syllable is clearly enunciated and the ending "s" is held slightly for effect (notably on "creeps" and "peeps").

Into my room he creeps,
Without making a sound.
Into my dreams he peeps,
With his hair all long and hanging down

How he makes me quiver,
How he makes me smile.
With all this love I have to give him,
I guess I'm gonna stay with him awhile.


Then it's the boy's turn and this was nothing macho about this. He sings just as softly, describing the babe that just entered his bedroom with nerve-wracking anticipation.

She brushes the curls from my eyes,
She drops her robe on the floor.
And she reaches for the light on the bureau.
And the darkness is her pillow once more.

How she makes me quiver,
How she makes me smile.
With all this love I have to give her,
I guess I'm gonna stay with her awhile.


Then there's the harmonica solo.

The couple sing the chorus a few more times together, it slows down and the girl sighs and whispers "I guess I'm gonna stay" just as the final chord fades.

You can throw up now.


26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Where the hell are the chords as promised,shouldn't print what you can't promise!

Anonymous said...

Only redeaming value...Frank Mills..(composer of "The Music Box Dancer") was a member of this band before he took off on his own...

Anonymous said...

Hey, compared to the explicity on the airwaves today... what is the problem with this tune? Two people in love... I don't see a problem with that. Nice tune...being expressive in there love.Lighten up please!

Gary Steward said...

I really like this song even if it is rather syrupy. I was 21 when I first heard it in 1971 and living in eastern Canada. I picked up the LP a few years back and listen to it now and then, reminds me of gentler and happier times. Suggestive lyrics are still better than the crap and swearing in music today. Bring back the 70's!- Gary

Anonymous said...

Sounds like porn?...you haven't listened to porn much have you. This sounds ultra sweet...nothing more, nothing less...quite the opposite of porn.

Murphy/Seattle said...

Does anyone know who wrote the song?

The woman's part always reminds me of Claudine Longet - remember her? Great Wikipedia flashback with a "Claudine Longet" search! Before the OJ Simpson trial & cable TV... and her story even involves RFK!

For me, "Stay Awhile" it's one of those "ear-catchers" that reminds me of Jr High & High School. I actually put it up with the graduation photos of my classmates from 1976 - from a small town smack in the middle of America (where the map folds), and the song makes a great back-drop to the images.

Almost 100,000 viewings, so I guess that it's not just me who enjoys it!

John F said...

That's pretty funny the throw up comment. Spaeking of bad songs does any body remember 2 death rock songs by an artist named David Geddes called"Run Joey Run" and "The last game of the season"??? Pretty bad and sappy

Anonymous said...

Hey author of article, I wonder how old you are? If you are a product of the 70s when this song came out and in puberty or of a more advanced age, you probably would have liked this song and realized the educational value it was worth in having a good relationship with a girl. Think about it and write back.

Chessbuff said...

I think you're too hard on the song. This is much, much more preferable to gansta music, rap music(?), and all those shitty stuff that pass for music nowadays. I think it's a good song even if it suggests passionate love-making which some of us find alien and offensive.

Kevin Hunter said...

The song was written by Ken Tobias from New Brunswick, Canada. It sold close to three million singles, was played in every discotheque in America and was the Number Two song in America for seven weeks behind Joy to the World. The group pioneered touring in Canada by playing every city from St. John's Newfoundland to Nanaimo, B.C. to sold out box offices night after night. I know. I was there. I managed them and Tobias.

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful love ballad and fits well in anyone's repetoire of love songs. It is extremely catchy and expressive. It is rather insulting that you could end the review with a statement like "you can throw up now". Considering the complete crap that is called music nowadays (that lacks a melody, flowing lyrics and good singing voices). I can even understand the words and am not overwhelmed by the band trying to drown out their own poor singing voices! I also agree with Gary about it bringing up a gentler happier time, which this generation couldn't appreciate since they are fused to their computer screen.

Anonymous said...

The "Geek" needs to get laid. He ain't gettin' enough and an old song from the early 1970's where a guy is about to get laid is driving him nuts.

He should watch some porn -- for 2 reasons:

1. He will be better prepared when he compares a song to porn.

2. He might be a little less cranky (after taking things into his own hands sorta speak) when he hears a song that implies sex.

Anonymous said...

Check out this Chinese cover version done as a female solo.
http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XOTc1NTgzNjQ=.html
or on youtube in a lower fideltiy
hwww.youtube.com/watch?v=R6hMcbpFJj4
She sings it as an art song, with pure tone and genuine emotion unlike the cynically corny vocal style of the original. And the accompaniment is a lot better too, with an ethereal electronic orchestration (definitely NOT a cheesy imitation of a standard orchestra) with a 45-second intro featuring a subtle, nuanced guitar line (nothing subtle or nuanced about the Bells version). The title in Chinese is 脈搏奔流 and the artist name is 丁菲飛

Anonymous said...

Actually the above is a duet, but with the same accompaniment and it sure sounds like the same girl. The solo version is on Amazon at
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dare-To-Be-Different/dp/B0043F6O4O/
(but not in U.S.A.) and on itunes
http://itunes.apple.com/pt/album/dare-to-be-different/id217322545
(again not in U.S.A.)
The artist name in English is Ding Fei Fei nd the track name is Mai Bo Ben Liu (Solo Version) and the album is Dare To Be Different.

Anonymous said...

If this is your idea of a really bad song that makes you throw up, then go ahead and heave 'cause you are one sick taco.

Anonymous said...

You had to have lived through the '60's and '70's to understand the beauty of this song. It was and is a great song!

mysticpoet2012 said...

Hey, Music Tyrant, exactly who are you to judge any piece of art, yes, art and publicly trash it as you have done? It has a sweetness and innocence and quality of love to it that, perhaps, you have never experienced and, therefore dispise it for it represents that which has heretofore eluded you.

What was the commercial in the 70's, it takes a strong man to be gentle.

Try it, open up, some of the "sappiest" songs have much to impart..if you'll only set aside the "macho," (another 70's word,) ego and allow something to actually touch you.

mysticpoet2012 said...

Hey, Music Tyrant, exactly who are you to judge any piece of art, yes, art and publicly trash it as you have done? It has a sweetness and innocence and quality of love to it that, perhaps, you have never experienced and, therefore dispise it for it represents that which has heretofore eluded you.

What was the commercial in the 70's, it takes a strong man to be gentle.

Try it, open up, some of the "sappiest" songs have much to impart..if you'll only set aside the "macho," (another 70's word,) ego and allow something to actually touch you.

Anonymous said...

anonymous says...
i really like this song. hey...it`s a love ballad for pity
sake. not everyones cup of tea.
but like many others who`ve posted
comments, i agree that ANYTHING is
better than the CRAP they`re putting out now. back in the 60`s
and 70`s there was such a wide variety of music, probably the
likes of which we`ll sadly never
see again.
geek...you can`t look back and
judge fairly if you didn`t live
in that era.(which you obviously didn`t)

citygirl said...

This song reminds me so much of that time in my life, early 70's, when my first love and I heard it over and over again. It was the sound of that sweet time and will always hold a special place in my heart for those years together and the memory of that love of my life.

Anonymous said...

I have to join what seems to be the majority opinion here: this song holds a special memory in my heart, from the early years of our relationship, and we're still married. Writer calls himself a total geek... must be accurate. He needs to walk away from the Star Wars movies and find a lover.

Unknown said...

Washington High?

Rod Hubert said...

Washington High?

Nancy said...

I think the song is sweet and I love the song. It does bring back the sweetest times and you can understand the words. Nancy

Anonymous said...

This song does not make me want to throw up. It actually makes me long for the sweetness of romance and the endless hope and possibilities that it brings. I am sad that the author has such a jaded soul.

Anonymous said...

...and then you listen to any song by Lords of Acid and realize The Bells (or at least the characters in their song) were so cute and innocent.