Stay (I Missed You)

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"Stay (I Missed You)"
Single by Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories
from the album Tails and Reality Bites soundtrack
B-side"Stay (I Missed You)" (Living Room Mix-acoustic)
ReleasedMay 17, 1994
FormatCD single
GenrePop rock
Songwriter(s)Lisa Loeb
Producer(s)Lisa Loeb, Juan Patiño
Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories singles chronology
"Stay (I Missed You)"

"Stay (I Missed You)" is a song by American singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb. It was released in May 1994 as the lead single from the original movie soundtrack Reality Bites (1994). The song was written and composed by Loeb herself, while production was handled by Juan Patiño and Loeb, who previously produced some of her songs back with Nine Stories. "Stay" was originally conceived in 1990 when she formed the band Nine Stories, who were then featured in the song (they were credited separately from Loeb). Loeb's neighbor and friend, actor Ethan Hawke found out about the song and submitted it to actor Ben Stiller's directional film soundtrack Reality Bites which was then accepted. Musically, "Stay" is a pop rock song that was also influenced by folk music. Lyrically, the song deals with a relationship that is in trouble, but the singer tries to reconcile with her lover.

"Stay" received positive reviews from most music critics, who praised the lyrical and production side and the song's commercial potential. Several critics had listed the song in some of the best song lists. "Stay" ultimately went on to become a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, earning her the distinction of being the first artist to top the US chart before being signed to any record label. The song was commercially successful in several other countries, including Canada, where it also reached number one, and in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The song's music video was produced and directed by close friend Ethan Hawke who lived near her apartment in New York City. For their performance of the song Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories were nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, but lost to All-4-One's "I Swear".


Before "Stay" was commercially released, Loeb had previous musical ventures. After graduating from high school in 1986, she went to Brown University, where she graduated in 1990[1] with a degree in comparative literature. At Brown, she and Elizabeth Mitchell formed a band named Liz and Lisa,[2] with future singer/songwriter and classmate Duncan Sheik as a guitarist. The duo released the albums Liz and Lisa (1989) and Liz and Lisa - Days Were Different (1990) independently.[1] After college, bassist Rick Lassiter and TV and drummer Chad Fisher joined the band. After developing a following together, Loeb and Mitchell parted ways a few years after college. While talking about her past musical ventures, Loeb said; "When the song came out, though, I had been playing music since I was a little kid and I’d had gigs since high school, and I’d been making recordings for almost 10 years at that point. I didn’t realize what an impact having a No. 1 single would have. It connects me with people of different ages, and I get to travel all over the world."[3]

She attended Berklee School of Music in Boston for a session of summer school, and in 1990 formed a full band called Nine Stories. The band, which was named after the book by J.D. Salinger, included Tim Bright on guitar, Jonathan Feinberg on drums, and Joe Quigley on bass. Loeb began working with producer Juan Patiño to make the cassette Purple Tape in 1992.[1] It included the earliest recordings of later popular tracks such as “Do You Sleep?,” “Snow Day,” “Train Songs,” and “It’s Over.”[2] Loeb sold the violet-colored cassette to fans at gigs and sent it to music industry promoters.[1] Loeb and her band also made a recording of her song "Stay (I Missed You)" during the same time. Loeb originally intended for the song to be used by Daryl Hall, whom she had heard was looking for songs for a solo project; before time the song was finished, however, she had been told Hall no longer needed additional music. [4]

Loeb was discovered by actor and friend Ethan Hawke, who lived in an apartment across the street from her in New York City.[5] She met Hawke through mutual friends in the NYC theatre community. Loeb had been performing "Stay (I Missed You)" to positive response at her shows, and Hawke gave a tape of Loeb's song to director Ben Stiller during the making of the film Reality Bites.[5] Stiller subsequently agreed to use the song in the film and on the film's soundtrack.

Composition and writing[edit]

"At the time I was having arguments with my boyfriend, who was actually my co-producer as well – we made records together. And then I go off into some other areas: I remember somebody close to me was going through severe, severe depression. A lot of times in my songs, I get into some phase where I describe some other situation, and there's a whole verse in there about somebody who is very, very depressed. But yeah, it was a story about a breakup I was going through, and that situation where it's gotten into your head too much.."[6]
-Lisa Loeb talking about the inspiration of "Stay (I Missed You)"

Musically, "Stay" is a pop rock song with folk rock influence. Vocally, according to a publication, "The tonal shifts in the vocals also are quite affecting. Loeb rants and rails through much of the song with barely contained emotion only to pull back for some tenderness in the refrain. It’s an outstanding performance of an enduring song."[7] The song is structured around a central passage of sonic catharsis. After the tentative opening, the pace and density of Loeb's roiling litany of self-recrimination increases; the personal pronouns pile up; the accents of the bass and backing voices grow unruly and insistent, like nagging, negative thoughts heaping on one another.[8]

According to Rhik Samadder, Loeb's guitar picks out a simple arpeggio as she admonishes: "You say I only hear what I want to," warning us that this may be the most self-involved song ever written. Almost every line contains a clutch of first person singulars: "I turned the radio on, I turned the radio up, and this woman was singing my song."[8] Based on the song's theme the break-up song is not about a relationship with a departed lover, but the relationship with ourselves [...] About accepting that our basic loneliness is unsophisticated and shared, and that we have to abandon the selfish dramas of our malaise to properly love. It's a point of emotional development [...]"[8] Regarding the lyrical content, Loeb's explained; ""I turned the radio on, I turned the radio up, and this woman was singing my song," Lisa explains: "That was when you hear somebody telling your exact story. It's funny, because it wasn't until later, after a couple of major breakups, that I realized when you're depressed and you're going through these breakups, the breakup was supposed to happen. If you're going through difficult times, it's hilarious how you turn on the radio and even the most cliché things perfectly capture how you're feeling. And then you realize why people wrote those songs."[6]

According to, "Loeb’s lyrics definitely capture the breathless way of expressing oneself that was common at the time. Considering all of the lines that start with “And,” the song can seem like one big run-on sentence. Yet in the midst of all of the breathlessness, she focuses enough to spin out several couplets that really nail the topsy-turvy feeling that romantic mind games can play on you."[7] According to the publication, they said that the lyric “Some of us hover when we weep for the other who was/Dying since the day they were born/Well, this is not that/I think that I’m throwing, but I’m thrown.” was "poetic".[7]

Critical reception[edit]

"Stay (I Missed You)" received positive reviews from most music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic highlighted the track as an album highlight. He said that the song is "gentle" and explained "That's because Tails delivers on the promise of "Stay." While the basic folk-rock elements of the song are present, much of the material on the record doesn't sound like her breakthrough hit; there are some distorted guitars here and there, and she even rocks out a little bit. Nothing on Tails is as good as "Stay."[9] Another review from Erlewine from Allmusic was issued from the greatest hits The Very Best of Lisa Loeb. He said ""Stay (I Missed You)" took her from obscurity to minor celebrity when it was included on the soundtrack of Reality Bites [...] While Loeb never strayed very far from the sweet, gentle template she laid down with "Stay (I Missed You)," she always was friendly, melodic, and rather ingratiating."[10] From the Reality Bites soundtrack, "Stay" was the only song to be highlighted as an album standout.[11][12] Andy Kellman labeled the song "passionate" and a "classic".[13]

Jim Beviglia from said positively "What [Reality Bites] did yield was a song that not only succinctly summed up that era but also managed to transcend it [...] Lisa Loeb’s “Stay (I Missed You)” is not just the relic of a specific era. It still resonates with anyone who ever loved someone not mature enough to properly reciprocate."[7] Rhik Samadder from The Guardian centered the song in an "Old Music" article, praising the song saying " Listening to the song now is like looking into a crystal ball backwards, seeing myself looking into it forwards. For that convoluted and dubious reason, whenever I hear Stay, I always turn the radio up."[8]


"Stay" later placed 93rd on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's.[14] The song was placed at number 100 on Entertainment Weekly's The 100 Greatest Summer Songs, saying, "Every summer needs its lovelorn ballad along with its roof raisers, and Loeb's winsome plea fit the bill."[15]

Loeb & Nine Stories received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Group, but lost to All-4-One's "I Swear." However, the group won a Brit Award for Best International Newcomer for the single.

Chart performance[edit]

After being featured in the film Reality Bites, "Stay (I Missed You)" entered the US Billboard Hot 100 in early April 1994. The song climbed the charts and eventually went to number one. Because of this, Loeb earned the distinction of being the first artist to top the US charts before being signed to any record label.[16] For over 19 years, Loeb was only artist to have this distinction, until the achievement was matched in 2013 by American duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with their single "Thrift Shop".[17] "Stay (I Missed You)" held the number one position for three weeks, and stayed in the Hot 100 for an overall thirty weeks. It also reached number five on the Adult Contemporary chart, number seven on Modern Rock Tracks and number one on Top 40 Mainstream. The song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in July 1994 for the shipment of 500,000 copies.[18] "Stay" ultimately sold 900,000 copies domestically.[19]

The song debuted at number twenty-three on the New Zealand Singles Chart on 14 August 1994 and was the second highest-debuting single that week.[20] The song peaked at fourteen in its third week and stayed for a total of thirteen weeks. The song debuted at number thirty-nine on the Australian Singles Chart on 7 August 1994. The song peaked inside the top ten in its fourth week and eventually peaked at number six for three consecutive weeks. The song stayed in the chart for a total of seventeen weeks.[21] The single didn't have much success in Europe, but did debut at 27 on the UK Singles Chart. The song peaked at number 6 on the chart and was even performed on Top of the Pops.[22] The song stayed in the charts for 15 weeks. The song was moderately successful in Europe, peaking at fifty-nine on the German Singles Chart, thirty-two on the Dutch Top 40, thirty-eight in Sweden and fifty in Belgium.

Music video[edit]

The music video, directed by Ethan Hawke and released in 1994, begins with a cat on a chair, then zooms out to Loeb (wearing a forest green dress and tortoiseshell glasses) [23] singing the lyrics while walking around in the empty New York City apartment in which she lived at the time. No audio, visual or green screen effects were used through very basic and simple video. It has two continuous camera shots of Loeb in an apartment. Very near the end of the music video, the cat (which belonged to Hawke) reappears, this time sitting on a windowsill.

According to VH1 show Pop-Up Video, the video was filmed in just two separate takes.[citation needed]

Track list[edit]

  • US maxi CD;
  1. "Stay (I Missed You)"
  2. "Stay (I Missed You)" (living room mix)
  1. "Stay (I Missed You)"
  2. "Stay (I Missed You)" (mirror image mix)
  • UK cassette single;[25]
  1. "Stay (I Missed You)"
  2. "Stay (I Missed You)" (living room mix)
  3. "Stay (I Missed You)" (album version)
  4. "Stay (I Missed You)" (living room extended version)
  • German CD single[26]
  1. "Stay (I Missed You)"
  2. "Stay (I Missed You)" (living room mix)
  3. "Stay (I Missed You)" (instrumental)



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[51] Silver 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[52] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Cover versions[edit]

"Stay" was covered in 2006 by Filipino singer Chris Cayzer for his self-titled debut album. In 2007, it was covered by pop-punk band New Found Glory for From the Screen to Your Stereo Part II and featured Loeb on supporting vocals. Sarah Silverman performed a cover version of the song in the episode "I Thought My Dad Was Dead, But It Turns Out He's Not" from the second season of The Sarah Silverman Program. Two lines from the song ("You say I only hear what I want to/You say I talk so all the time") can be heard from Much has Been Said, a song by the Filipino rock band Bamboo from their album Light Peace Love. YouTube actress and singer Annie Leblanc has covered this song in Brat’s Chicken Girls the Movie. In 2019, Loeb remade the song in collaboration with Canadian indie band Walk Off the Earth.

Credits and personnel[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Lisa Loeb – Biography, Albums, Streaming Links – AllMusic".
  2. ^ a b "Lisa Loeb".
  3. ^ "Lisa Loeb". 28 July 2011.
  4. ^ {{cite web|
  5. ^ a b Wloszczyna, Susan (26 July 1994). "After fast chart climb, Loeb settles in to `Stay'". USA Today.
  6. ^ a b "Stay by Lisa Loeb Songfacts".
  7. ^ a b c d "Lisa Loeb, "Stay (I Missed You)" « American Songwriter". 9 September 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d Old music: Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You). The Tuesday 15 May 2012 10.16 BST
  9. ^ "Tails – Lisa Loeb,Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Songs, Reviews, Credits – AllMusic".
  10. ^ "The Very Best Of – Lisa Loeb – Songs, Reviews, Credits – AllMusic".
  11. ^ Reality Bites Soundtrack. Allmusic Review.
  12. ^ "Now That's What I Call the 1990s: The Alternative Pop Collection – Various Artists – Songs, Reviews, Credits – AllMusic".
  13. ^ "Love Songs: Gold – Various Artists – Songs, Reviews, Credits – AllMusic".
  14. ^ Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories | Music Artist, Videos, Photos, News, Ringtones, Album and Movie Info |
  15. ^ The 100 Greatest Summer Songs: Nos. 100–76. Entertainment Weekly.
  16. ^ John Bush, Lisa Loeb – Overview – Biography,
  17. ^ "Macklemore's 'Thrift Shop' Is First Indie Hit to Top Charts in Nearly Two Decades". Time. January 25, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  18. ^ "American certifications – Loeb, Lisa – Stay". Recording Industry Association of America.
  19. ^ "Best-Selling Records of 1994". Billboard. BPI Communications. 107 (3): 57. January 21, 1995. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  20. ^ 14 August, 1994 New Zealand Singles Chart.
  21. ^ Hung, Steffen. " – Australian charts portal".
  22. ^ "Official Charts Company – Lisa Loeb And Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You)".
  23. ^ Loeb, Lisa. "Lisa Loeb Official Page". Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  24. ^ Discogs | US Promo.
  25. ^ Discogs | UK Cassette.
  26. ^ Discogs | European CD Single.
  27. ^ " – Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You)". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  28. ^ " – Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You)" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  29. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2585." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  30. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 2579." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  31. ^ " – Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You)". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  32. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (01.9.–07.9. '94)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). September 1, 1994. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  33. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Stay (I Missed You)". Irish Singles Chart.
  34. ^ " – Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  35. ^ " – Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You)". Top 40 Singles.
  36. ^ "Lista Przebojów Trójki – Polskie Radio Online". Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  37. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  38. ^ " – Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You)". Singles Top 100.
  39. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  40. ^ "Lisa Loeb Nine Stories Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  41. ^ "Lisa Loeb Nine Stories Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  42. ^ "Lisa Loeb Nine Stories Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard.
  43. ^ "Lisa Loeb Nine Stories Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  44. ^ "Lisa Loeb Nine Stories Chart History (Rhythmic)". Billboard.
  45. ^ "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 1994". ARIA. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  46. ^ "RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1994". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  47. ^ "RPM Top 100 AC tracks of 1994". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  48. ^ "Top 100 Singles 1994". Music Week. January 14, 1995. p. 9.
  49. ^ "1994 Year End Charts – Hot 100 Songs". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  50. ^ Geoff Mayfield (December 25, 1999). 1999 The Year in Music Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade – The listing of Top Pop Albums of the '90s & Hot 100 Singles of the '90s. Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  51. ^ "British single certifications – Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Stay (I Missed You)". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved March 8, 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Stay (I Missed You) in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  52. ^ "American single certifications – Lisa Loeb – Stay". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 8, 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]