She also starred in a coy music video, directed by Hawke, that appealed to MTV viewers burned out on gloomy grunge rock.

But she did have a famous fan, the actor Ethan Hawke, who lived across the street from her Greenwich Village apartment (he used to call down to her from his second-floor window).

When the fetchingly rumpled actor suggested Loeb's lilting ballad, "Stay (I Missed You)" for the soundtrack of his 1994 Gen-X flick, Reality Bites, the singer suddenly found herself sharing album space with U2.

And, though she was the first artist to score a #1 hit before she was signed to a record label, her success hasn’t come without a lot of hard work and dedication.

From her music theory degree at Brown, through a semester at Berklee, four years of hard gigging with her band Nine Stories, then her surprise monster hit with “Stay” in 1994, four subsequent albums, and a whole lot of touring miles, Loeb has nourished her muse and kept her focus on the music.

"As weird as it seems, the best way for me to keep healthy and keep my weight down is to eat a little of everything," the petite, famously bespectacled chanteuse-guitarist explains between bites at an Encino cafe.

Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb is eating a tuna sandwich and a spinach salad, talking about "Cake And Pie." In a voice as sweet and knowing as her wistful folk-pop, she says the point of her new album is that in life, as on the dining table, you can have your cake and eat your pie, too.

Bearing the kind of sensitive-man good looks that have led many to think he would be perfect for a career as a tortured, latte-chugging intellectual, Ethan Hawke instead emerged in the 1990s as both a talented actor and a thinking girls' poster boy.

In addition to acting, Hawke penned two novels -- The Hottest State, which is rumored to be based on a former relationship he had with singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb, and the best-selling Ash Wednesday.

That’s a song that’s still a major part of my repertoire. I was glad for new people to connect with it, and for it to reconnect with people who’ve been following me for a long time. Back to the “Gossip Girl” finale: the show doesn’t give too many details about your relationship with Rufus. I think that we got married, and I think that we just – we reconnected in an episode a few years ago, and we kept in touch, and dated and got married.

[One sign was when] Ethan Hawke requested I give him a recording of that song when he went to Ben Stiller, who was directing “Reality Bites”… What was the atmosphere on the set like, given that you were shooting the big goodbye episode? When I was a kid, I watched “The Brady Bunch.” And they had my crush from the Monkees ... He [appeared] on “The Brady Bunch.” I love when people in culture show up on fictional TV shows. Why do you think there’s so much ’90s nostalgia going around?

I was living in New York City for a couple years after college playing with a band and trying to get signed.