“Stay (I Missed You)”

“Stay (I Missed You)”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Lisa Loeb
“Stay (I Missed You)”

Written and Recorded by Lisa Loeb

Normally when I write, I am primarily inspired by a word or words or a melody that comes to my mind. Usually I veer away from writing about my personal life. This song is very unusual since I was writing from personal experience.

I was having an argument with my boyfriend at the time. He and I co-produced records at the time at his small apartment on Mott Street in New York City, where we also recorded.

And you say, I only hear what I want to

I don’t listen hard, don’t pay attention

To the distance that you’re running

To anyone, anywhere.

When you’re in an argument, the other person accuses you, then turns around and says stay. Then I get the feeling that I didn’t hear the person correctly.

Secondarily, it’s about over-thinking situations. The song captures that as well. You ruminate about something in your head much more than necessary until it becomes something else.

At the time I was writing this, I was told by a friend that Daryl Hall was looking for music. I hadn’t written for anyone else previously, but he was definitely in my mind when I wrote it. I was inspired by his style of blue eyed soul. I was thinking of those kinds of songs when I was writing the chord progression and playing it. Although it was still my signature guitar lick, there was a little bit of R&B. I learned that Hall and Oates weren’t looking for songs anymore by midway through my writing, so I decided to finish the song for myself.

It’s universal sounding. I recorded an earlier version with another producer as part of my demo deal. But it is the version we did at the apartment, with friends of mine on the track that made it what it is.

My friend Ethan Hawke heard it and really liked it and asked if he could pass it along to Ben Stiller, who was doing Reality Bites at the time. It was accepted and record company executive and producer Ron Fair finished the track, adding a tambourine and more harmonies, and it went on the soundtrack. It was finished in a two day session at a fancy Los Angeles studio. It probably cost more to record that one track than we spent on my entire album. The cartage fee on the percussion alone was as much as it cost us to record this whole song previously.

Ethan also directed the video. It was done in one take with no edits, which is very rare. Although I always play the guitar, I didn’t in the video so people could relate better to the lyrics and not be distracted from them.

Structure is always important when writing. A lot of songs tend to be like a short story that unwinds then closes itself up. There was no chorus in this song but it got radio airplay anyway, which is quite unusual. It went to #1 in 1994 and got a Grammy nomination even though I was an independent artist. I am told that I am the only person who has ever been nominated without being signed to a recording contract. Luckily, the success of the song launched my career and gave me the freedom to write more of the kinds of songs I like.

“Stay (I Missed You)”

You say I only hear what I want to.

You say I talk so all the time so.

And I thought what I felt was simple,

and I thought that I don’t belong,

and now that I am leaving,

now I know that I did something wrong ’cause I missed you.

Yeah yeah, I missed you.

And you say I only hear what I want to:

I don’t listen hard,

don’t pay attention to the distance that you’re running

to anyone, anywhere,

I don’t understand if you really care,

I’m only hearing negative: no, no, no.

So I turned the radio on, I turned the radio up,

and this woman was singing my song:

lover’s in love, and the other’s run away,

lover is crying ’cause the other won’t stay.

Some of us hover when we weep for the other who was

dying since the day they were born.

Well, well, this is not that;

I think that I’m throwing, but I’m thrown.

And I thought I’d live forever, but now I’m not so sure.

You try to tell me that I’m clever,

but that won’t take me anyhow, or anywhere with you.

You said that I was naive,

and I thought that I was strong.

I thought, “Hey, I can leave, I can leave.”

Oh, but now I know that I was wrong, ’cause I missed you.

Yeah, I miss you.

You said, “I caught you ’cause I want you and one day I’ll let you go.”

You try to give away a keeper, or keep me ’cause you know you’re just

scared to lose.

And you say, “Stay.”

And you say I only hear what I want to.

Words and Music by Lisa Loeb. © 1993 SONGS OF UNIVERSAL, INC. and FURIOUS ROSE MUSIC. All Rights Controlled and Administered by SONGS OF UNIVERSAL, INC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

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