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.