“Stay With Me” In-Depth Story
Ahoy! So you decided you want to go deeper? I’m guessing you can relate to what I experienced. I’ll be pretty open and vulnerable with some of the blogs that follow. My hope in sharing this story is that we’ll be able to support and encourage each other as we try to make sense of some of the things life throws at us. It’s really a way for us to start a conversation about difficult subjects that many of us don’t know how to talk about. Even if we did know how, who would we talk to? I’m also hoping the music will inspire you and give you a boost. And the blogs, well, maybe some of the stories will make you laugh. After all, humor can be an excellent coping mechanism. Well, here goes nothing:
Behind The Song “Stay With Me” in full detail:
Stay With Me was a desperate appeal to preserve a relationship and future that was slipping away from me. I was 21 years old and had been engaged for a year to a girl I had seen in my mind as my future wife for years. The wedding date was set, the venue was booked and the invitations were about to go out in the mail. One week though, things got weird. My fiance seemed distant when we talked on the phone, but I didn’t think much of it at first. She called me one evening and told me that she was in love with someone else and needed some time to decide what she wanted to do. I was pretty much stunned. It was something I had not seen coming and wasn’t emotionally prepared to deal with. At first, I told her if that’s where she was really at, she needed to bring the ring back, but the truth is I just couldn’t bring myself to stick by that statement. Sometimes I have a hard time maintaining boundaries. I couldn’t let her go so I decided to make an “appeal.” That appeal was this song, Stay With Me, and it has become a “fan favorite” if you can call it that.
At the time of writing Stay With Me, I had been writing my debut album Vandarth: The Escape for several months. The entire album was written, but there was one thing missing; a strong opener and “radio single.” Yes, radios were still a “thing” at that time! Sort of… I remember walking around my college campus in between classes working on the lyrics in my head. I wrote the song in about an hour on a cool day in the fall, walking around campus in my hoodie. Even the guitar part was written completely in my mind. I shuffled around different chord variations trying to make the intro and verse unique. Honestly, the catchy “singles” are sometimes tormenting to me because I struggle to make them artistic and unique. The chorus of the song felt too basic to me, but if I made the intro and verse guitar parts interesting enough, I could be mostly satisfied.
After I finished writing the entire song in my head, I walked to my next class and wrote everything down in my notebook. Ironically, the stress of the breakup was almost just what I needed to complete the album. There’s energy and a sense of hope in this song that makes it fun to listen to, but if you can see through all of that, you can almost hear my misguided belief that I could win her back. I intended to record the song and send it to her but before I began recording, my fiance came by my house to give me back the engagement ring. I wasn’t able to play her the song, but I did try to convince her to stay with me and see what we could become together. She didn’t feel the same and would go on to marry the other guy she had been talking to. As I closed the front door to my house that night, I knew that I was breaking inside and wasn’t able to think clearly. I was truly scared of what I would do after losing her, so I called my best friend and he came over for awhile to help me deal with the aftermath.
About an hour later, though, I decided there was only one thing to do in a situation like this; it was time to start recording. Not only did I need to do something to cope with the situation, but it was a rare chance to capture raw, pure emotion on a record. I went upstairs and began recording the drum tracks for Stay With Me and the rest of the album that night. I took two weeks off school and work to lay all of the tracks down for the album. When I was recording, I felt life again, but as soon as I put down the drumsticks or guitar, the pain would return. The result, though, were 12 songs of gripping passion and honesty that are invaluable and special to me.
It’s one thing to write a song when you’re going through something difficult but it becomes even more when an artist gets an opportunity to record it during the “moment.” When I recorded the vocals for Stay With Me, my fiance was already gone, but there was a part of me that believed there was still hope. You can hear it in my voice, however unrealistic it may have been. I released the song as a single and posted it on Facebook. Part of me hoped she would hear it and she’d decide she’d made a mistake but I never heard from her. Looking back though, it was right.
As it turns out, that experience was one of the most important experiences I would go through in my life. While this may read like a sad story, that’s only how it began. I don’t regret what happened today and I don’t have any hard feelings towards her. I realized when she gave me back the engagement ring that the way I had been living wasn’t particularly health. The emptiness I felt after she left my house that night was so unbelievably painful that I realized I had made this one girl the center of my universe and reason for living. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. Plus, I knew there was more to live for that I just couldn’t see in that moment. I had put so much of my own worth into her that I couldn’t live without her. It was clear that I needed to rediscover my purpose in life (or maybe discover it for the first time). I knew it shouldn’t be a girl, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I was completely broken but I was rediscovering myself over the next few weeks as I recorded the album. The spiritual healing that I needed would take years, but the breakup was the catalyst for change. If that had not happened, who knows where I would be today or who I would be.
Now for some fun stuff! Here’s a photo of me recording drums on the album. By the way, any studio engineer will tell you that recording drums with a low ceiling is a no-no, but it’s what I had. If you know me, I’m not a rock star, just a normal guy with some recording gear. Unfortunately the low ceiling did have a negative impact on the drum sound, but what I really want to know is… Why the heck am I drumming in a sweater?! And socks?!
There was one more important benefit of getting the engagement ring back that I must mention. As I held the ring in my hand, I felt like it was going to burn me. I didn’t want the memory of it and I sure wasn’t going to use a “cursed” ring to another girl, but what I COULD do is sell it and buy a guitar! I had recently been to a Foo Fighters concert and was enamored with Dave Grohl’s black Gibson acoustic. I couldn’t quite afford that, but I could afford a cheaper Gibson.
I settled on this beauty pictured on the right. Her name was Eva Mendez. Yep, that’s right, named after the actress in that Will Smith movie. I’m not even going to pretend it’s not what it sounds like, because it is. You might not be able to be with the woman you want, but you can always be with the guitar you want right? The guitar sounded gorgeous and would become one of my closest friends over the next few years. That is, until I met Lacey…
Hope you enjoy the song! Let me know what you think of it. If you make your way to a Vandarth show, you’ll likely hear me play this one. The journey was hard… but I got a good song out of it!
Nathan (aka Vandarth)