I Stay Away

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"I Stay Away"
Promotional CD single
Single by Alice in Chains
from the EP Jar of Flies
Released March 1994[1]
Format CD single[2][3]
Recorded September 7–14, 1993
Studio London Bridge, Seattle, Washington
Length 4:14
Label Columbia
Alice in Chains singles chronology
"No Excuses"
"I Stay Away"
"Don't Follow"
Jar of Flies track listing
"I Stay Away"
"No Excuses"
Music video
"I Stay Away" on YouTube

"I Stay Away" is a song from Alice in Chains' 1994 EP Jar of Flies, and the second single from the album. This song marked the first time the band wrote with bassist Mike Inez.[4] The single reached No. 10 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks, and stayed in the chart for 26 weeks.[5] "I Stay Away" was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1995.[6] 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[edit]

In the liner notes of 1999's Music Bank box set collection, guitarist Jerry Cantrell said of the song:

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.[7]


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 string instruments. It also effectively demonstrates the harmony between vocalist Layne Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell.

Release and reception[edit]

"I Stay Away" made its radio premiere in March 1994.[1] It debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart on the week of May 14, 1994,[8] and peaked at No. 10 in the week of July 2, 1994.[5] The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1995.[6]

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."[9]

"I Stay Away" was featured on Guitar World's "Top 30 12-string guitar songs of all time" list at number twenty-five.[10]

Music video[edit]

Alice in Chains' claymation dolls on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum.

The music video for "I Stay Away" was released in May 1994 and was directed by Nick Donkin,[11] also known for his animated short film The Junky's Christmas. The video was created entirely using stop-motion animation, and includes the band members in puppet form. The band travels to a circus aboard a bus, along with a sinister looking boy holding a jar full of flies. At the circus, the boy releases the flies in order to harass the animals and performers, including an angry lion, which mauls its tamer, and a blindfolded knife thrower who inadvertently kills his assistant. Eventually, the circus burns down with the workers looking on in horror. 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.[12]

The puppets used in the video are on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum in Cleveland, Ohio.[13]

In popular culture[edit]

"I Stay Away" was featured in "Walking Erect" (1994), episode 10, season 3 of Beavis and Butt-Head.[14]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "I Stay Away" 4:13
UK release
No. Title Length
1. "I Stay Away" 4:13
2. "Don't Follow" 4:21


Additional Performers
  • April Acevez – viola
  • Rebecca Clemons-Smith – violin
  • Matthew Weiss – violin
  • Justine Foy – violoncello

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[15] 10


  1. ^ a b "Alternative Playlists" (PDF). American Radio History. April 1, 1994. p. 63. Retrieved April 6, 2018. 
  2. ^ "Alice In Chains – I Stay Away (US)". Discogs. Retrieved April 6, 2018. 
  3. ^ "Alice In Chains – I Stay Away (UK)". Discogs. Retrieved April 6, 2018. 
  4. ^ "10 Best Alice in Chains Songs". Loudwire. March 18, 2014. Retrieved November 2, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "Alice in Chains - "I Stay Away" Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved August 5, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "37th Grammy Awards - 1995". Rockonthenet.com. Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  7. ^ Liner notes, Music Bank box set. 1999.
  8. ^ "Mainstream Rock Songs – The Week of May 14, 1994". Billboard. Retrieved April 6, 2018. 
  9. ^ Raggett, Ned. "I Stay Away". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  10. ^ "The Top 30 12-String Guitar Songs of All Time". Guitar World. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  11. ^ "Alice in Chains - I Stay Away". mvdbase.com. Retrieved April 6, 2018. 
  12. ^ "Alice In Chains – Music Bank - The Videos". Discogs. Retrieved April 6, 2018. 
  13. ^ "Memories Are Piling Up For Rock's Hall Of Fame". The Seattle Times. July 23, 1995. Retrieved August 5, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Alice in Chain - Soundtrack. 'I Stay Away'" at IMDb.
  15. ^ "Alice in Chains Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved November 6, 2016.

External links[edit]