Stay Another Day appears to be the quintessential Christmas song. Many have assumed that the lyrics to the song are about the pain of a relationship ending but, while Tony intended them to be ambiguous, they were actually written about a tragic event in his life.
“It was inspired by my brother’s suicide. That was the muse behind the song. Writing the verses about such a massive loss was hard, because it was so raw at the time and I drew on that and used the pain of that loss to write it. And then I turned it into a love song as I wanted to write in an ambiguous way that would mean a lot to a lot of people. And then away it went.”
"I think it's so important we talk about suicide - because for me, being part of a family that experienced it, it’s a permanent solution for a temporary emotion."
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It’s been 25 years (25!) since the classic #East17 hit #StayAnotherDay was Christmas no.1. But today Tony Mortimer and Waltham Forest Youth Choir have released a brand new version - all in support of CALM. Wherever you are, turn it up LOUD. Huge thanks to @londonrecordings and @wfculture19 http://stayanotherday.info/
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“When the record company said they wanted to do something special for the 25th anniversary, I said “Well, to be honest, I get that every year”. People start talking to me about it in August when I’m still in barbecue mode! But they said they wanted to do this for charity and I said ‘I'm interested in that because it’s not just me having another hit but really helping people’. And doing it for CALM to help prevent suicide - when that had something to do with the story of the song itself - made it really personal for me…”
He admits he was massively surprised when it became a Christmas hit. “I still am. It’s surpassed all my expectations. Every year I have a hit record. It’s very surreal.”
Because of the personal nature of the song he originally never wanted it to be a single. “The record label really liked it but I said ‘Well you can’t release that, that’s got a personal connection for me, I don't really want it released. I don’t want to perform it, it’ll be uncomfortable.’ But in the end I obviously didn’t win the battle. So then it came out and it became a big hit and I was like ‘Oh my god’. It's nice to do this on the 25th anniversary. Hopefully give something back.’”
Now the new version, specially arranged by acclaimed composer Joe Duddell and created with Waltham Forest Choir, has seen him revisit the song 25 years on. It has been inspiring. “The beautiful kids from Walthamstow are so amazing. They all knew the song and their parents knew who I was. They’re so talented and have given up their time and everything. I love what they’ve done.”
Tony’s personal connection to suicide means he speaks passionately about wanting to get people to speak more about their mental health and helping CALM to prevent more people taking their life.
“Suicide is a very dark topic. A lot of people don't want to talk about it. Yet it affects so many people. And, statistically you’re as much as three times more likely to take their own life if you're a guy than if you’re a woman. I don't know why that is, but I think it's probably because men don’t talk. I just lost another friend last year to suicide.”
“So I think it's so important we talk about it - because for me, being part of a family that experienced it, it’s a permanent solution for a temporary emotion. And it’s not the right solution. It never is.”
“There's that great line isn’t there? ‘It's OK not to be OK'. The statistics are incredible - last year CALM saved over 600 people. I think if we could let people know there are places like CALM if you need them it can make such a massive difference.”