I Stay Away

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"I Stay Away"
Promotional CD single
Song by Alice in Chains
from the album Jar of Flies
Released November 2, 1994
Format CD
Recorded September 7–14, 1993 at London Bridge Studio in Seattle, Washington
Length 4:14
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Lyrics: Layne Staley
Music: Mike Inez and Jerry Cantrell
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' 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). The song reached No. 10 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks, and stayed in the chart for 26 weeks.[1]

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.[2]


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" peaked at number ten on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in 1994. The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1995.[3]

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."[4]

"I Stay Away" was featured on Guitar World's "Top 30 12-string guitar songs of all time" list at number twenty-five.[5]

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 1994 and directed by Nick Donkin, 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. The puppets used in the video can now be found in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum.[6]

"I Stay Away" was also featured in "Walking Erect" (1994), episode 10, season 3 of Beavis and Butt-Head.[7]


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)[8] 10


  1. ^ "Alice in Chains - Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved August 5, 2017. 
  2. ^ Liner notes, Music Bank box set. 1999.
  3. ^ "37th Grammy Awards - 1995". Rockonthenet.com. Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  4. ^ Raggett, Ned. "I Stay Away". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  5. ^ "The Top 30 12-String Guitar Songs of All Time". Guitar World. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  6. ^ "Memories Are Piling Up For Rock's Hall Of Fame". The Seattle Times. July 23, 1995. Retrieved August 5, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Alice in Chain - Soundtrack. 'I Stay Away'" at IMDb.
  8. ^ "Alice in Chains – Chart history" Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs for Alice in Chains. Retrieved November 6, 2016.

External links[edit]