Station To Station album coverWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: September-November 1975
Producers: David Bowie, Harry Maslin

Released: 23 January 1976

Available on:
Station To Station
Live Nassau Coliseum ’76
Stage (2005 edition)
Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78)
Look At The Moon! (Live Phoenix Festival 97)
David Bowie At The Kit Kat Klub (Live New York 99)
Glastonbury 2000
Is It Any Wonder?

Personnel

David Bowie: vocals, Chamberlin
Carlos Alomar, Earl Slick: guitar
George Murray: bass guitar
Dennis Davis: drums
Geoff MacCormack: congas

The penultimate track on David Bowie’s 10th album Station To Station, ‘Stay’ was a thrilling mix of funk, rock, and soul music dominated by guitarists Carlos Alomar and Earl Slick.

‘Stay’ shares the chords and structure of ‘John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)’, Bowie’s 1975 re-recording of his glam rock hit single – right down to the switch from 4/4/ to a bar of 3/4 in the verses. Yet Bowie and his musicians were experts at covering their tracks, and the final recording bore little resemblance to the Young Americans outtake – ‘Stay’ is, at its heart, an extended guitar workout for Slick and Alomar, fully let loose and unleashed in the studio.

‘Stay’ was fabulous! We had a field day with that one. That was recorded very much in our cocaine frenzy. ‘Stay’ was basically done with the rhythm section. It was pretty funky and pretty much straight ahead. I wrote out a chart and said this was pretty much what we wanted to do. That song I think David did on the guitar. He strummed a few chords for me, and then we gave it back to him. The rhythm section really liked that one, and then Earl Slick covered some of the lines I had laid down with a thicker sound.
Carlos Alomar
Strange Fascination, David Buckley

We mashed all these songs together. It’s not really a rock and roll record… Earl Slick and I work in different ways, and while I would record something and just put a holding part in, he would then come in and make it all his own. My line was the inspirational line, his was the real line. His sound was very close to Mick Ronson, which David loved, and he was able to create a link. Sure, ‘Station To Station’ and ‘Stay’ are experimental records, but the rest of the album is medium poppy. David was on it. If you need to have fifteen cups of coffee, or whether you want to buzz around on coke, people do what they have to do. I do not condone being so out of it that you don’t remember anything, but the fact that you are able to rise to the challenge at the moment, that’s the challenge.
Carlos Alomar
David Bowie: A Life, Dylan Jones

Lyrically, ‘Stay’ shows Bowie’s paranoia during his cocaine peak. “Maybe I’ll take something to help me, hope someone takes after me,” he sings dispassionately in the opening verse. It also displays the sense of doubt he felt in his romantic life, amid the anticipation of new connections:

Stay, that’s what I meant to say
Or do something, but what I never say is
Stay this time, I really meant to so bad this time
’Cause you can never really tell
When somebody wants something you want too
‘Stay’

The release

The Station To Station album was released on 23 January 1976. ‘Stay’ was the fifth of its six tracks.

‘Stay’ was the b-side of the ‘Suffragette City’ single, released in the Australia, France, Germany, and the UK in July 1976.

It was also the lead song on a single released in Canada, Japan, Portugal, and the USA, with ‘Word On A Wing’ on the b-side. Both songs were edited for the release, with the 3:23 ‘Stay’ edit shortening the introduction, omitting a chorus towards the end, and fading early.

The edit was included on the soundtrack of the film Christiane F. Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo, and was also included on Re:Call 2 in the 2015 box set Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976).

In 1991, Station To Station was remastered and reissued by Rykodisc/EMI, with the cover photograph in full colour rather than the original monochrome image with a white border. This edition also contained two bonus tracks: live versions of ‘Word On A Wing’ and ‘Stay’, recorded on 23 March 1976 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.