By Jay Tilles

When James Bay sat alone with his guitar one evening he had no idea he’d end up writing his very first hit song. The 24-year-old British songwriter was simply overwhelmed with feelings and music was his only mechanism for coping.

Bay tells that “Hold Back The River” was born purely out of emotion, and a longing to be with friends and family after a grueling tour got in the way.

“Most of my songs start musically—melody, guitar part, chords, whatever—but that one didn’t,” Bay recalls. “It started with quite an overwhelming feeling.”

With his early success, Bay found himself busier than he’d ever been. 

Read the complete story on James Bay and ‘Hold Back the River’ on


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