I Stay Away
|"I Stay Away"|
|Single by Alice in Chains|
|from the album Jar of Flies|
|Released||November 2, 1994|
|Recorded||September 7–14, 1993 at London Bridge Studio in Seattle, Washington|
|Genre||Grunge, alternative rock|
|Writer(s)||Lyrics: Layne Staley
Music: Mike Inez & Jerry Cantrell
|Producer(s)||Alice in Chains Toby Wright|
|Alice in Chains singles chronology|
"I Stay Away" is the second single from Alice in Chains' EP Jar of Flies (1994). The song was included on the compilation albums Nothing Safe: Best of the Box (1999), Music Bank (1999), Greatest Hits (2001), and The Essential Alice in Chains (2006).
Origin and recording
That was the first time we'd written with Mike Inez, which makes this another special song. The whole Jar of Flies EP proved to both us and the fans what a talented and valid part of the band Mike was. He plays the nastiest, darkest shit but he's got the sweetest heart in the world.
The track is notably softer than Alice in Chains's previous recordings on both Facelift and Dirt; however, despite the bright opening guitar riff and verse, the song's pre-chorus suddenly detours into dark, sludgy electric guitar and a haunting vocal harmony. The chorus then reintroduces the upbeat tones with powerfully long-drawn vocals and anxious violins. A hard rock electric guitar solo then plays amidst the bright acoustic section.
"I Stay Away" also uses a great deal of instrumentation that Alice in Chains had previously not attempted, including horns and string instruments. It also effectively demonstrates the harmony between vocalist Layne Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell.
Release and reception
"I Stay Away" was released as a single in 1994. "I Stay Away" peaked at number ten on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1995.
Ned Raggett of Allmusic said, "The seeming schizophrenia between massive rock crunch and gentle acoustic numbers was actually one of Alice in Chains' strongest traits, and on the brilliant "I Stay Away" the two impulses fused to create what on balance was the band's most uplifting song, sonically if not always lyrically."
"I Stay Away" was featured on Guitar World's "Top 30 12-string guitar songs of all time" list at number twenty-five.
The music video for "I Stay Away" was released in 1994 and was directed by Nick Donkin, famous for his claymation film The Junky's Christmas. The music video for "I Stay Away" is entirely stop-motion animation, featuring the band members in puppet form. The band travels to a circus aboard a bus where a sinister looking boy is also aboard the bus, holding a jar full of flies. Once off the bus, things go awry when the boy releases the flies from the jar. In a seemingly purposeful manner, the flies cause death and disaster as they become major distractions and nuisances to the performers, including harassing an angry lion, making it maul its aggressive tamer; biting a motorcycle stunt rider, causing him to crash during a live stunt; as well as distracting a blindfolded knife thrower that inadvertently kills his assistant. Eventually, the circus burns down with the workers looking on in horror. The most ominous moment occurs at the end of the video when the boy causes the flies to return to their jar, whereupon we see him petting them as reward for a job well done. The video is available on the home video release Music Bank: The Videos. The puppets used in the video can now be found in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"I Stay Away" was also featured in an episode of Beavis and Butt-head.
- Layne Staley – lead vocals
- Jerry Cantrell – guitars, vocals
- Mike Inez – bass
- Sean Kinney – drums, percussion
- Additional Performers
- April Acevez – viola
- Rebecca Clemons-Smith – violin
- Matthew Weiss – violin
- Justine Foy – violoncello
|US Mainstream Rock Tracks||10|
- Liner notes, Music Bank box set. 1999.
- "37th Grammy Awards - 1995". Rockonthenet.com. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
- Raggett, Ned. "I Stay Away". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
- "Artist Chart History – Alice in Chains". Billboard charts. Retrieved 2008-02-14.