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The sad story behind East 17’s ‘Stay Another Day’

‘It was a bit of a risk,’ songwriter Tony Mortimer said

Jacob Stolworthy
Sunday 25 December 2022 08:48 GMT
Mariah Carey brings her daughter on stage for duet of ‘Away in a Manger’

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Louise Thomas

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Almost three decades since its release, East 17 song “Stay Another Day” has remained a regular Christmas fixture.

The track swiftly became a festive favourite after it was released in 1994, with many assuming the words, sung by Brian Harvey and his bandmates, to be about a failed relationship.

However, the song, which was written by Tony Mortimer, actually has a much deeper meaning.

Speaking to Songwriting Magazine in 2016, Mortimer revealed: “I had the melody and the chords and I was looking for a story to go on top of it.”

He decided to base the lyrics on a very sad event from his life.

“It was based on my brother’s suicide and losing someone,” he explained. “What would you do if you had one more day with a loved one?”

Mortimer continued: “Over time I started to put together the story and I wrote it in a different way to any song I’d written before.

“It’s a different way of writing because they were just sections of statements, rather than a verse being a story from beginning to end.”

Referring to specific lyrics from the song, Mortimer said: “If you take the first verse, it was just sections like, ‘Don’t you know we’ve come too far now / just to go and try to throw it all away, and ‘I’ve only just begun to know you / all I can say is won’t you stay another day.’

“It was all based on conversations I’d had with my brother and I was trying to change it into a love song about the end of a relationship.”

Despite the song’s sad origins, Mortimer said he intended to make the song “ambigious”, and expressed the hope that people would take whatever meaning they desire from the song when they hear it over the Christmas period.

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The music video for East 17 ‘Stay Another Day’
The music video for East 17 ‘Stay Another Day’ (YouTube)

“I wanted to write in an ambiguous way that would mean a lot to a lot of people,” he said.

“It was a bit of a risk as I didn’t know how well it was going to go down, but I wanted the lines to mean something to everyone. Yes, there’s my story in there but, more importantly, I wanted it to reach people.”

He continued: “Once people connect with a line in a song, that’s what makes a hit.”

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