All You Had To Do Was Stay

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Songfacts®:

  • This end-of-relationship lament about a commitment-phobic lover is one of several songs on 1989 that are thought to be inspired by a certain One-Direction ex (for those of you that have been vacationing on a remote desert island over the last couple of years that's Harry Styles we're talking about). Her liner note message is: "They Paid The Price."
  • This is one of nine tracks on 1989 that Max Martin contributed towards, He also served as executive producer of the album. The Swedish hitmaker had co-penned three tracks on 2012's Red, but he played a much bigger role this time around. "I used to talk about Max Martin like he was this sorcerer who lived in a castle on a hill," Taylor told Rolling Stone. "And then one time Scott [Borchetta, the head of her label] said to me, 'You know... you can work with him if you want to.' I was like, What?!"
  • The use of Max Martin, the man behind the hit tunes from such pop stars as Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and Katy Perry, was significant in Taylor shedding every last country gene she had for 1989. Asked by Billboard magazine why she went pop, the former country princess replied: "I think what made me decide to do that was that, looking back on my last album, Red, when people would ask me, 'What's your favorite song?' I would always say, without hesitation, 'I Knew You Were Trouble.' So when I went in the studio to start this album, I wanted to make sure that this album was different than anything I'd done before, and I was naturally gravitating toward those pop sensibilities and expanding that way."

    "But it wasn't until about a year in that I admitted to myself and my team that this is a pop album," Taylor continued. "We can't call it country; that would be the most disingenuous thing we can do, and out of respect for a [genre] and a music town that I adore, I have to be honest. I think being upfront with people that you care about is the most honest way of going about your life and your decisions."
  • The song was in part inspired by a dream Taylor had about an ex. "I was having this dream, that was actually one of those embarrassing dreams, where you're mortified in the dream, you're like humiliated," she told Time. "In the dream, my ex had come to the door to beg for me to talk to him or whatever, and I opened up the door and I went to go say, 'Hi,' or 'What are you doing here?' or something - something normal - but all that came out was this high-pitched singing that said, 'Stay!' It was almost operatic."

    "So I wrote this song, and I used that sound in the song. Weird, right?" Taylor continued. "I woke up from the dream, saying the weird part into my phone, figuring I had to include it in something because it was just too strange not to. In pop, it's fun to play around with little weird noises like that."

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