Song of the Day #5,273: ‘All You Had To Do Was Stay’ – Taylor Swift

I recently wrote about the importance of track five on Taylor Swift’s albums, and the Random iTunes Fairy has responded by serving up one of those tracks today.

‘All You Had To Do Was Stay,’ from the 2014 album 1989, is one of Swift’s more upbeat track fives, in keeping with the overall style of that album. But lyrically it delivers a healthy dose of emotional turmoil. If you read the song before playing it, you might expect a tortured ballad rather than a slick bop.

Given Swift’s career trajectory over the past eight years, it’s funny to think back on the reactions to 1989. Fans and critics were alternately dismayed and intrigued that she had gone to the dark side of commercial pop. The former country star had dipped her toe in this pond on several Red tracks but 1989 took things to a whole new level.

Now, knowing how she expanded and evolved that pop sound on Reputation, Lover and Midnights, it’s weird to think of this as anything but the most obvious and appropriate direction for her to take.

1989 remains one of her most popular releases, selling more copies worldwide and in the U.S. than everything other than 2008’s Fearless. And for my money, it remains a top five Taylor album.

[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, could’ve been easy
All you had to do was (Stay)

[Post-Chorus]
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, could’ve been easy
All you had to do was (Stay)

[Post-Chorus]
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 (Oh, oh, oh-oh-oh)
You ended it
You were all I wanted (Oh, oh, oh-oh-oh)
But not like this
Not like this
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 want 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, could’ve been easy
All you had to do was…
(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, could’ve been easy (All you had to do was stay)
All you had to do was (Stay)

[Post-Chorus]
All you had to do was (Stay) (Oh)
All you had to do was (Stay)
All you had to do was (Stay) (Ooh)
All you had to do was (Stay)

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,273: ‘All You Had To Do Was Stay’ – Taylor Swift

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I know 1989 is a critic favorite and one of, if not your, favorite of Swift’s albums, but much of it, including this song, tilts too heavy on the dance pop for my personal taste. I prefer the balance she achieved on subsequent albums.

  2. Maddie says:

    A great track 5 song, indeed!

    I also find 1989 to slump lower on my list (clearly there’s not a Taylor Swift album I don’t adore, though) because I’ll always be a lyrics girl. A lot of 1989 tracks are more repetitive lyrically, so even though they’re pretty much all bops that I won’t skip… I still don’t hold it as a top 5. “I Know Places” and “New Romantics” and “I Wish You Would” are my tops on this album. Excited for the re-recordings, because I know there are going to be some great vault songs from this era.

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