Title: Stay Title: The Load Out
Artist: Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs Artist: Jackson Browne
Year: 1960 Year: 1977Album: N/A - single release only Album: Running on Empty
Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs aren't quite a one-hit wonder band--they had another million-selling record called "May I" in 1961--but they're pretty close. "Stay," their only significant pop record, has the distinction of being the shortest song ever to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, clocking in at just 1:39. It has also been covered by many artists, including The Four Seasons and The Hollies. I like the original version especially for its clever backing vocals and inexplicable falsetto verse.
My favorite re-use of the song comes from Jackson Browne nearly two decades later. The former Eagle wrote "The Load Out" as a tribute to his roadies and his fans. Growing up in a blue-collar, pro-union household, I was pretty much fated to like this song. And seriously, when was the last time you heard a large touring act acknowledge the people who set up, tear down and carry their stuff, let alone keep it working show after show? Even as it shows its age, the song is significant for that reason. But what's really cool about it is the Browne steers the ballad right toward a singalong stadium rock version of "Stay." It's a very clever trick and must have been incredibly effective to those first crowds of fans who did not expect it. This excellent 1978 London concert version is not the original, although the album version was recorded live in concert at Maryland's Meriweather Post Pavilion.