“Why Won’t You Stay” by Melvin James: The Song That’s Been Stuck in My Head for 20+ Years

It’s odd what people remember sometimes.

I heard “Why Won’t You Stay” maybe once, maybe a couple of times, when I was a kid.  Couldn’t have been more than three or four.  For some reason, it popped into my head off and on for the next twenty years or so.

I tried to figure out who the singer was through the usual means (Google, All Music Guide) on occasion ever since such tools came into existence.  Because I couldn’t remember if the title was “Why Won’t You Stay” or “Why Don’t You Stay” (and was leaning towards the wrong one) and because Simple Minds and probably a million other bands use the exact same line from the chorus which is the only other part I could remember (“Come in, come out of the rain”), I never came up with anything conclusive.

Someone recently posted the song to YouTube, and Jason finally found it for me after I’d mentioned it in an e-mail thread about trying to identify old songs.  I knew from the first note that it was the one I was looking for.

In my head I had it as more of an Prince-type R&B number rather than a New Wave-ish ’80s rock song.  Maybe it’s because Melvin James sounds more to me like an R&B singer’s name than someone who seems to have taken his production cues from “White Wedding.”  (Although I had forgotten the name of the singer, I know it was announced at the time because I first heard the song on “Future Hits” or some similar show.)  I also may have been associating it with “The Rain” by Oran “Juice” Jones, which had been a top ten hit the previous year.

Beyond that, I’m shocked by how accurate my memory was.  Background parts and everything.

It’s catchy, to be sure, but there must be hundreds of catchy songs that I’ve forgotten completely over the years.  Why did this song stick with me for so long?

I have no idea.

Melvin James’ only album, The Passenger, peaked at 146 in 1987, and “Why Won’t You Stay” peaked at 17 on Billboards Mainstream Rock Tracks chart–I don’t know what a mainstream rock track is, but it doesn’t look like hitting number 17 on that chart is enough to qualify as a hit.

And that’s all I know about Melvin James.


11 Responses to “Why Won’t You Stay” by Melvin James: The Song That’s Been Stuck in My Head for 20+ Years

  1. fanofmelvin says:

    i heard the album when i was a kid in India,and i could not lay my hands on a cd in any store till i had to order online..i liked the album a lot.

  2. David says:

    A great, forgotten piece of pop candy. Reminds me a lot of pre-Rembrandts Danny Wilde, a little bit of Glass Tiger, middle-era Bryan Adams … even a touch of post-Replacements Tommy Stinson.

    I’ve got some MP3s to share, if you wish …

  3. nirupam tewary says:

    so happy to find this song; i had this song in a cassette in a mid-80’s compilation of grammy nominees alongwith ‘Shattered Dreams’ by Johny Hates Jazz, but despite remembering the song, the singer and the approximate time of release, could not find anything on the internet till late 2008. I even posted a query on one of the forums where experts provide answers, but they could not recall it either.

    The internet is a great redeemer for lost ones!

    thanks for posting the video.

  4. Jeff says:

    I actually met Melvin about 10 years ago and he did a show for me (I produced concerts). Very nice guy, I am currently going through my CD collection and burning them onto my hard drive. I forgot I had his CD and decided to see what he was up to and found this site. Catch toon, but I must confess I hadn’t heard of it until I met him.

  5. joe says:

    im trying to find the lyrics to the song ‘why wont you stay[come in ,come out of the rain].can somebody find them & Email them to me?thanx!

  6. Sam says:

    Similar Great Songs which became #1 Hits during that era:
    – Anything at all: Mitch Malloy
    – I’ll cry for you: Europe
    – She Lives: Kevin Jordan
    – One good lover: Red Siren
    – Where are you now: Roxus
    – Into the fire: Dare

  7. Bert says:

    Actually, Melvin and his band, The Crash Street Kids, were big time in Minneapolis from 1981 to 1984. They had one album that went no where; but man, they were a blast to watch and party with.

    I would have to say that Tommy Stinson was more influenced, if anything, by hanging out with the Kids in the late 70’s when they were just getting going; along with Flamingo et.al. Great time to be in Minnesota’s music scene.

  8. Bert:

    Ha! So my Prince connection was not as crazy as I thought!

    Had no clue, and would love to hear more on the matter. I think I speak for more than half of us here when stating that we’re huge Replacements fans.

    On the off chance you drop back by, hit me up if you’d like to write more on the subject. I’ll happily host a guest post.

  9. joe says:

    this is a real classics of the 1986, i heard it when i was 16 years old, i am an 80s collector, i added this Melvin James to mine in 2005! just awesome song

    i’ve got over 5000 mps of the 80s!

  10. Barrie says:

    I have that record…love it. I bought it in the 80’s just because of that song.

  11. Bert says:

    Again, Melvin was the lead singer/guitar player for the Crash Street Kids. They played Duffy’s, Union Bar, some place in Hopkins (which I cannot remember), Cabooze (cool setup for them there) and the list goes on. They had Randall Pye on drums and Gary Snow on bass (Gary passed away a few years back).

    Their road crew was the best; Tom Kelly (not the Twins manager obviously) and a couple twins named Randy and Rodney (can’t remember their last name though).

    Melvin was a “Who junkie.” He loved Townsend almost to a fault. Hence his Pete Townsend haircut, black Gibson SG and associated leaps, windmills and “ass-shakes”

    I used to hang out with them alot as we all shared a love of British “Mod” rock, Special Export beer (“green death”) and loud guitars. All for now.

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