English singer/songwriter Sam Smith recorded Stay With Me in 2014. It was the single off his debut studio album In the Lonely Hour. Stay with Me is a gospel-inspired ballad and the song tells the story of the main character begging that his one-night stand not leave. The song was written by Smith, James Napier, and William Phillips, with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne receiving co-writer credits due to the song’s similarity to Petty’s single “I Won’t Back Down”. Today we’ll learn an easy arrangement of the Stay With Me chords.
Title: Stay With Me
Artist: Sam Smith
Songwriters: James Napier, William Phillips, and Sam Smith
Album: In the Lonely Hour
Chord Progression: Am–F–C–Gsus4–G–E7
Accompaniment Technique: Open Chords and Basic Fingerstyle
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind that will help you learn the tune faster while giving you some ideas for how to approach performing it. I provided some useful links above and I’ll take you through the Stay With Me chords, accompaniment patterns, song form, and a chord chart. Everything you need to get started playing this tune.
Stay With Me is the key of A minor and uses all first-position chords. Since we’re approaching this tune from an acoustic guitar standpoint, we have a few options to consider which I’ll discuss further below and in the video. They deal mainly with some chord fingerings and strumming approaches.
This is a fun and easy tune that you can quickly add to your repertoire. It’s also a great tune for those venturing into the world of fingerstyle playing and singing while playing. The repetitive nature of the chord progression and accompaniment pattern lend themselves to working on these skills.
The rhythmic feel uses syncopated anticipations and these techniques help create motion and interest. The pattern can be a little tricky at first, but once you get it down, it’s repeated throughout the tune providing you with ample opportunity to practice. Here’s the breakdown:
- It’s a 2-bar rhythm pattern.
- Play the Am on beat 1.
- Switch to the F on the “and” of 2.
- Then, the C chord on the “and” of 4.
- Aim for keeping a steady rhythm throughout.
Basic Fingerstyle Technique
Stay with Me is perfect for beginning fingerstyle players. The right hand is notated as follows:
- P = Thumb
- I = Index
- M = Middle
- A = Ring
I find that using a pick to strum the Stay With Me chords can be a little too harsh sounding for the mood of this tune. For that reason, I suggest using your fingers to pluck and strum the chords. Let’s begin by assigning the right-hand fingers to certain strings:
- The Thumb (P) plays the bass note on the 5th and 6th strings (depending on the chord, of course).
- The Index (I) is assigned to the 4th string.
- The Middle (M) is assigned to the 3rd string.
- The Ring (A) is assigned to the 2nd string.
This is the essence of fingerstyle playing, assigning fingers to specific strings. This way, you don’t need to look at the right hand while playing. Once you get used to it, you can “feel” where you are.
I suggest using the finger-plucking technique for the verse and the finger-strumming technique for the chorus. I explain this in more detail in the video.
Stay With Me Chords Chart
I’ve included a chord chart, which is a simple road map that shows you:
- The overall arrangement of the song.
- A section by section breakdown of the song.
- Each chord and how long to play it for.
If you don’t read music, please don’t be intimidated. This is a cheat sheet that can help you get through the tune quickly and easily. I find it indispensable for learning songs and I can also hand it to a seasoned musician and they can follow along without any problems.
- Intro: A 4-measure section; the Am–F–C chord riff is two measures and played twice.
- Verse: An 8-measure section; the two-measure, Am–F–C chord riff is played three times and the fourth time the Gsus4 replaces the F chord in the progression.
- Chorus: An 8-measure section; (4) two-bar chord riffs. Riff 1 is the Am–F–C chord riff from the intro and verse; Riff 2 is the Am–F–C chord riff with a G chord added in the 2nd half of the 2nd measure; Riff 3 is the Am–F–C chord riff with an E7 chord added in the 2nd half of the 2nd measure; and, Riff 4 is the Am–F–C chord riff.
Once you become familiar with chord charts, you’ll never want to go back. It’s just easier to see where you’re going when you have a map. And, it’s especially helpful when you’re not familiar with the song or there’s a section of the song that you don’t remember (Bridges and Interludes are notorious for surprising players and derailing a song’s performance). Thankfully, this tune is pretty straightforward, it’s an AB song form… No Surprises.
I hope that you’ve enjoy learning the Stay With Me chords and if you haven’t checked out any Gospel music then I encourage you to do so. It’s nice to see where today’s artists get their inspiration from and you may discover a new world of music that may motivate you to explore a new direction. Also, as guitar players, the guitarists that are playing modern Gospel today are very talented and doing some innovative things. Lastly, I recommend a little Tom Petty as well—he is truly one of the great American songwriters.
Thanks for hangin’ with me and I’ll see you next time.