Throwback Thursday: ‘Stay (I Miss You)’ By Lisa Loeb And Nine Stories

What: “Stay (I Miss You)”

When: 1993

By: Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories

From the Album: Reality Bites OST (1993), Tails (1995)

Reason for the Throwback: Yesterday marked the 20-year anniversary of this song hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, so it only seemed fitting to give a little love to Lisa Loeb and her surprise smash hit that everyone still knows all the words to all these years later.

Long before wearing black, thick-rimmed glasses was de rigueur and girls randomly identified themselves as “nerds,” Loeb was the bookish, cute, indie musician of our dreams and this song was how we were introduced. Who knew living across the street from Ethan Hawke could have such an impact? If Loeb doesn’t pass along a copy of this song to Hawke, it never finds its way to being the song in the closing credits of Reality Bites and the “Oh my god—where did this come from?” out of nowhere hit it went on to be.

True story: Loeb became the first artist in music history to have a No. 1 hit without having a record deal, a distinction she held all by herself until 2013 when Macklemore and Ryan Lewis followed suit with “Thrift Shop.”

What also made this a great throwback selection is that “Stay” feels like the perfect embodiment of everything that was great about music and pop culture and its combined influence back in the ’90s.

The song makes it onto the Reality Bites soundtrack and into the film and the movie takes off, becoming a seminal flick for Generation X, though it doesn’t stand up very well over time. From there, Loeb shoots a one-take video (directed by Hawke) and it becomes a smash as well, helping to further propel this song up the charts and to tons of airplay, eventually landing it at No. 1.

You don’t get those kinds of stories anymore. Now you get pre-fab pop stars and wannabe celebrities that go viral even when they’re awful, MuchMusic and MTV no longer really show videos and I can’t think of the last new song from a soundtrack that had a serious impact on the charts.

Free of all of that, “Stay” is a great song—a soft, melodic ode to a relationship gone wrong and the struggle to fix it.

The spots where the pace of Loeb’s singing picks up are great and the subsequent cool downs that follow are a beautiful musical representation of heated argument between partners—you try to stay mellow and not raise your voice, you get fired up and shout for a bit and then you take a deep breath and let the anger die down.

It’s a simple, easy-listening song that holds up really, really well all these years later and still brings a smile to my face whenever it shuffles to the top of my playlist while I’m walking the dog.

I missed you Lisa Loeb.

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