In early 1994, Lisa Loeb was an unknown singer-songwriter living in New York City. That same year, she also became a musician whose song, "Stay," shot to number one on the Billboard charts -- the first artist to ever reach this achievement without having a recording contract. Loeb's rise to stardom was instant, and it's all thanks to a movie that Loeb views with a slight hint of irony.
"Reality Bites" was released in 1994, and Loeb's "Stay" was featured on the film's soundtrack. Though the movie was about a group of Gen Xers whose lives lacked direction, Loeb says she couldn't relate to the premise. The singer was surrounded by people, including the film's stars, who knew exactly what they wanted to do in life.
"I was hanging out with Ethan Hawke, Ben Stiller, Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo, all the actors in the movie; they're really hard-working people," she says. "So, it's funny to be making a movie about these sort of aimless people."
As a hard-working musician herself, Loeb originally wrote and recorded "Stay" without the backing of a record label. "I wrote the song 'Stay' sitting on a mattress on the floor on 52nd Street about an argument I was having with a boyfriend, who also happened to be my producer at the time," she says.
Hawke, one of the stars of "Reality Bites," was a friend and neighbor of Loeb's. After hearing "Stay," he brought a copy of the song to Stiller, the film's director. "Ben put the song in the movie, and later, when the whole 'Reality Bites' soundtrack came out, a radio station down in Houston called KRBE decided to start playing the song on the radio," Loeb says.
The rest, as they say, is history. "Stay" remained on the Billboard charts for 30 weeks, and its music video -- shot in all one take and directed by Hawke -- became one of the most talked-about music videos of the decade.
Twenty years later, "Stay" is still one of the things for which Loeb is most recognized (in addition to her iconic cat-eye glasses, of course). She still performs the hit today, but after all that time, does it ever get old? Not at all, she says.
"You know, I am not tired of singing it," Loeb says. "To me, 'Stay' reminds me of being an artist and a musician, just moving to New York City... I love that people are still so connected to it!"
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