Cat Power’s new album Wanderer includes a very moody cover of Rihanna’s ballad “Stay.” In an interview with the New York Times about the new album and the drama surrounding her recent label-switch (she left Matador for Domino after Matador rejected Wanderer’s sparse production, telling her manager it was “not good enough, not strong enough to put out”), she explained the cover’s unexpected origins. The story involves karaoke, an old lover, and a teary taxi ride:
“Stay” had stuck with her since she’d heard it years ago in someone’s car, she said. “An old lover, he was picking me up and he opened the door and that song was on the radio,” she recalled. “He said, ‘Oh, there’s my girl,’ and I thought he was talking about me, you know? Then the song ended and he turned off the radio, and I realized he was talking about Rihanna.”
A few years later, not long after the birth of her son, she heard it again in a taxi and cried the whole ride. That night, she had plans to meet a friend at a karaoke bar, and decided “Stay” would be the only song she performed.
She sang it 16 times.
Covers have long been a staple of Cat Power’s work — she’s released two cover albums, The Covers Record and Jukebox — but “Stay” is one of her best yet. Thank you to that ex-lover!