Jewish singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb will visit Tempe’s Zia Record Exchange on Nov. 29 for Black Friday. Her visit is in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of her platinum hit single, “Stay (I Missed You).”
“I’ve heard it’s a great record store,” she said. “I love going to Phoenix whenever I can and we had some free time in the schedule, so it all coincidentally worked out that I could do this event while I was in town.”
Loeb’s most famous song debuted for a mass audience in the 1994 romantic comedy-drama “Reality Bites,” directed by Ben Stiller and starring Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke. Loeb was friends and neighbors with Hawke in New York City, and he gave Stiller a tape of her song. The director put it into the film’s credits, and it subsequently became the soundtrack’s lead single.
“Stay” was actually created for Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates, who was looking for songs for a solo project. While Hall closed down his search before the song was finished, it led to a hit single for Loeb.
“I was trying to write a song about love and heartbreak, which is what I was going through at the time,” Loeb said. “It’s a very personal song and a song that was probably a lot more direct and heartfelt than my other songs at the time, which were more poetic and mysterious.”
Loeb earned the distinction of being the first artist to top the Hot 100 before being signed to a record label. She never expected the song to take off the way that it did.
“By the time I could even imagine it, it was already happening,” she said. “Being a musician was always something I worked at my whole life. It all felt natural as it was happening, but in retrospect it was unbelievable. It was really exciting to have a song on the radio.”
Just seven months after the movie’s official release date, “Stay” was certified gold.
Loeb is also visiting the area to spend Thanksgiving with family. Her brother, Benjamin Loeb, recently became the new executive director for Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale.
He always knew that his sister made great songs, even before the success of “Stay,” and it was only a matter of time before something broke for her.
“I remember hearing the song for the first time a few months to a year before it was in the movie and being very struck with it,” he said.
Benjamin became the executive director for the congregation earlier this year. Like his sister, he is a musician and is an accomplished solo pianist. He has a doctorate in musical arts from Juilliard and previously worked as the executive director of Quad City Symphony Orchestra in Iowa before coming to CBI.
He ended up taking the job because he was as interested in administration as he was in music. He had spent more than a decade working at different musical venues and realized that he could use those same skills in the synagogue world.
His sister plans to attend a Friday night service at CBI after her performance at the record store.
“Not only will she be attending services, but she’ll be performing there as well,” Benjamin said. “One of our rabbis, Rabbi Sara Mason-Barkin, is a big fan of Lisa’s and it turns out that a few years ago, she had written a sermon that included one of Lisa’s songs.”
Mason-Barkin is going to give that sermon again, and Loeb will perform for the congregation afterward.
For Loeb, the Black Friday celebration at the record store is a great opportunity to perform some new songs, but she will also sing older songs and, of course, “Stay.”
“I hope people will enjoy the past, the present and the future at the record store that day,” she said. “I hope that they not only have a feeling of nostalgia and home, but also one of discovery and excitement about what’s coming next.” JN