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All You Had To Do Was Stay

1989 (2014)

“All You Had To Do Was Stay” got the meaningful track five spot on Taylor’s fifth studio album 1989 (2014).  In the song, she realizes that no matter what she does, she can’t seem to make a former love stay. This particular guy’s indecision (breaking up and then wanting to get back together) put the final nail in their relationship’s coffin.
Of note, “All You Had To Do Was Stay” was the fifth song to contribute to Taylor’s streak of “Track Five” of the album being “emotional vulnerable” ballads.

Background

Inspired by pop music of the 1980s and its experimentation with synthesizers, drum pads, and overlapped vocals, Taylor decided to move away from the signature country styles of her previous releases and incorporate a straightforward pop production for 1989. The recording process began in mid-2013 concurrently with the start of Taylor’s “The RED Tour” in support of her fourth studio album, RED (2012). Taylor announced in February 2014 that she was again working with Max Martin and Shellback, with whom she had collaborated on three songs for RED. The two produced seven of the thirteen tracks for the album’s standard edition; Martin also served as executive producer with Taylor.

Lyrical Theme

“All You Had To Do Was Stay” was one of the first songs Taylor wrote for 1989. It was originally a piano ballad. In an interview for GQ Magazine, she explained that she had come up with the high-pitched chorus in a dream:

«I had a dream that my ex showed up at my door, knocked on the door, and I opened it up and I was about ready to launch into the perfect thing to say. And instead, all that would come out of my mouth was that high-pitched chorus of people singing, 'Stay!'»

Taylor Swift

Live Performances

“All You Had To Do Was Stay” was initially part of Taylor’s setlist for “The 1989 World Tour” (2015). However, a few shows into the tour she cut the song to make time for her many surprise guest appearances. On the last leg of the tour, she once again added “All You Had To Do Was Stay” to the setlist. It is therefore featured in the concert movie The 1989 World Tour Live (2015).

Critical Reception

Rolling Stone namend “All You Had To Do Was Stay” one of the best pop songs of the 2010’s decade.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
People like you always want back the love they gave away
And people like me wanna believe you when you say you’ve changed
The more I think about it now the less I know
All I know is that you drove us off the road

[Chorus]
Stay
Hey, all you had to do was stay
Had me in the palm of your hand
Then why’d you have to go and lock me out when I let you in?
Stay
Hey, now you say you want it back
Now that it’s just too late
Well, it could’ve been easy
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay

[Verse 2]
Here you are now, calling me up, but I don’t know what to say
I’ve been picking up the pieces of the mess you made
People like you always want back the love they pushed aside
But people like me are gone forever when you say goodbye

[Chorus]
Stay
Hey, all you had to do was stay
Had me in the palm of your hand
Then why’d you have to go and lock me out when I let you in?
Stay
Hey, now you say you want it back
Now that it’s just too late
Well, it could’ve been easy
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay (Stay, stay, stay, stay)

[Bridge]
Let me remind you
This was what you wanted (You ended it)
You were all I wanted (But not like this)
Not like this
No, not like this
Oh, all you had to do was

[Chorus]
Stay
Hey, all you had to do was stay
Had me in the palm of your hand
Then why’d you have to go and lock me out when I let you in?
Stay
Hey, now you say you want it back
Now that it’s just too late
Well, it could’ve been easy
All you had to do was stay

[Final Chorus]
Hey, all you had to do was stay
Had me in the palm of your hand
Then why’d you have to go and lock me out when I let you in?
Stay
Hey, now you say you want it back
Now that it’s just too late (All you had to do was stay)
Well, it could’ve been easy
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay
All you had to do was stay

General Information
Album1989
ReleasedOctober 27, 2014
RecordedJanuary 10, 2013
StudioConway (Los Angeles)
GenreSynth Pop
Length3:13
LabelBig Machine Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Max Martin
ProducersMax Martin
Shellback
Mattman & Robin
1989 CHRONOLOGY
Out of the WoodsAll You Had To Do Was StayShake It Off
Single Certification
Hidden Message
They paid the price
Song Artwork
Taylor on Recording Day
Instagram Teaser
Live Performance
Official Audio