Song of the Day #1,300: ‘Stan’ – Eminem

The first rap album that became essential listening for me was Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP. Before that I enjoyed and appreciated certain rap songs but had never heard a complete rap album that held my interest.

But the Marshall Mathers LP, which exploded into the cultural consciousness amid cries of outrage and arguments over censorship and freedom of expression, was a fully formed masterpiece of anger, pain and dark humor.

I don’t mean to suggest that this Eminem record was the first great rap album. No doubt it followed (and borrowed from) a long line of masterful records. But this was when I became a legitimate fan of a rap artist.

It’s a funny analogy, but for me Eminem is to rap what Brad Paisley would later become to country music — an artist I love and will follow to the far reaches of his career despite otherwise not buying into his genre.

If the Marshall Mathers LP was the album that crashed through the rap barrier, ‘Stan’ was the song on that album that made the most immediate impact. Making use of a hauntingly effective Dido sample, Eminem inhabits the mind of a deranged fan who doesn’t get that his idol is “just clowning” when he raps about violence and self-mutilation.

[Chorus: Dido]
My tea’s gone cold I’m wondering why I..
got out of bed at all
The morning rain clouds up my window..
and I can’t see at all
And even if I could it’ll all be gray,
but your picture on my wall
It reminds me, that it’s not so bad,
it’s not so bad..

[1st Chorus: volume gradually grows over raindrop background]
[2nd Chorus: full volume with beat right after “thunder” noise]

[Eminem as ‘Stan’]
Dear Slim, I wrote but you still ain’t callin
I left my cell, my pager, and my home phone at the bottom
I sent two letters back in autumn, you must not-a got ’em
There probably was a problem at the post office or somethin
Sometimes I scribble addresses too sloppy when I jot ’em
but anyways; fuck it, what’s been up? Man how’s your daughter?
My girlfriend’s pregnant too, I’m bout to be a father
If I have a daughter, guess what I’ma call her?
I’ma name her Bonnie
I read about your Uncle Ronnie too I’m sorry
I had a friend kill himself over some bitch who didn’t want him
I know you probably hear this everyday, but I’m your biggest fan
I even got the underground shit that you did with Skam
I got a room full of your posters and your pictures man
I like the shit you did with Rawkus too, that shit was fat
Anyways, I hope you get this man, hit me back,
just to chat, truly yours, your biggest fan
This is Stan

[Chorus: Dido]

[Eminem as ‘Stan’]
Dear Slim, you still ain’t called or wrote, I hope you have a chance
I ain’t mad – I just think it’s FUCKED UP you don’t answer fans
If you didn’t wanna talk to me outside your concert
you didn’t have to, but you coulda signed an autograph for Matthew
That’s my little brother man, he’s only six years old
We waited in the blistering cold for you,
four hours and you just said, “No.”
That’s pretty shitty man – you’re like his fuckin idol
He wants to be just like you man, he likes you more than I do
I ain’t that mad though, I just don’t like bein lied to
Remember when we met in Denver – you said if I’d write you
you would write back – see I’m just like you in a way
I never knew my father neither;
he used to always cheat on my mom and beat her
I can relate to what you’re saying in your songs
so when I have a shitty day, I drift away and put ’em on
cause I don’t really got shit else so that shit helps when I’m depressed
I even got a tattoo of your name across the chest
Sometimes I even cut myself to see how much it bleeds
It’s like adrenaline, the pain is such a sudden rush for me
See everything you say is real, and I respect you cause you tell it
My girlfriend’s jealous cause I talk about you 24/7
But she don’t know you like I know you Slim, no one does
She don’t know what it was like for people like us growin up
You gotta call me man, I’ll be the biggest fan you’ll ever lose
Sincerely yours, Stan — P.S.
We should be together too

[Chorus: Dido]

[Eminem as ‘Stan’]
Dear Mister-I’m-Too-Good-To-Call-Or-Write-My-Fans,
this’ll be the last package I ever send your ass
It’s been six months and still no word – I don’t deserve it?
I know you got my last two letters;
I wrote the addresses on ’em perfect
So this is my cassette I’m sending you, I hope you hear it
I’m in the car right now, I’m doing 90 on the freeway
Hey Slim, I drank a fifth of vodka, you dare me to drive?
You know the song by Phil Collins, “In the Air of the Night”
about that guy who coulda saved that other guy from drowning
but didn’t, then Phil saw it all, then at a a show he found him?
That’s kinda how this is, you coulda rescued me from drowning
Now it’s too late – I’m on a 1000 downers now, I’m drowsy
and all I wanted was a lousy letter or a call
I hope you know I ripped +ALL+ of your pictures off the wall
I love you Slim, we coulda been together, think about it
You ruined it now, I hope you can’t sleep and you dream about it
And when you dream I hope you can’t sleep and you SCREAM about it
I hope your conscience EATS AT YOU and you can’t BREATHE without me
See Slim; [*screaming*] Shut up bitch! I’m tryin to talk!
Hey Slim, that’s my girlfriend screamin in the trunk
but I didn’t slit her throat, I just tied her up, see I ain’t like you
cause if she suffocates she’ll suffer more, and then she’ll die too
Well, gotta go, I’m almost at the bridge now
Oh shit, I forgot, how’m I supposed to send this shit out?
[car tires squeal] [CRASH]
.. [brief silence] .. [LOUD splash]

[Chorus: Dido]

Dear Stan, I meant to write you sooner but I just been busy
You said your girlfriend’s pregnant now, how far along is she?
Look, I’m really flattered you would call your daughter that
and here’s an autograph for your brother,
I wrote it on the Starter cap
I’m sorry I didn’t see you at the show, I musta missed you
Don’t think I did that shit intentionally just to diss you
But what’s this shit you said about you like to cut your wrists too?
I say that shit just clownin dogg,
c’mon – how fucked up is you?
You got some issues Stan, I think you need some counseling
to help your ass from bouncing off the walls when you get down some
And what’s this shit about us meant to be together?
That type of shit’ll make me not want us to meet each other
I really think you and your girlfriend need each other
or maybe you just need to treat her better
I hope you get to read this letter, I just hope it reaches you in time
before you hurt yourself, I think that you’ll be doin just fine
if you relax a little, I’m glad I inspire you but Stan
why are you so mad? Try to understand, that I do want you as a fan
I just don’t want you to do some crazy shit
I seen this one shit on the news a couple weeks ago that made me sick
Some dude was drunk and drove his car over a bridge
and had his girlfriend in the trunk, and she was pregnant with his kid
and in the car they found a tape, but they didn’t say who it was to
Come to think about, his name was.. it was you.

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,300: ‘Stan’ – Eminem

  1. Dana says:

    Ah, Stan….This song is simply brilliant.

    I, like you, don’t gravitate to rap music, but Eminem is the exception. Your Paisley analogy is an interesting one. However, it seems to me that one of the reasons you like Paisley (and also someone like Lyle Lovett) is that he not only elevates the quality of country music, but he also ventures into other genres like jazz and blues.

    Eminem, on the other hand, doesn’t really stray from rap–but he just does it better than anyone else I have ever heard do it. Part of it, of course, has to do with the provocative lyrics, but, at least for me, I just love the way he raps. I’ve heard others rap and have appreciated the quality of the songs, but simply didn’t gravitate to the rapper’s voice. This is, of course, not a preference unique to Eminem or rap — it is largely why I don’t listen to Rufus Wainwright or you don’t listen to Joni Mitchell.

    Anyway—again, great song. Makes me want to play the whole album ASAP:)

  2. Amy says:

    I don’t begin to know enough about the genre to suggest whether Eminem is an exception or not. And I’m not such a fan of this type of music that I would ever find myself wanting to listen to an entire album in one sitting. That said, I find this song to be absolutely brilliant. I appreciate Eminem’s music the way I appreciate poetry. When I want to not simply listen but to analyze and to appreciate, that’s when I turn on a song by Eminem. Of course, the fact that it largely came on my radar in the midst of all the controversy, with Elton John singing the Dido part on the Grammys in order to demonstrate his solidarity with a fellow artist, who John didn’t believe was the homophobe he was accused of being. Suddenly there was a powerful pop culture example I could use in my classroom to illustrate the distinction between author and speaker. So… yeah… Eminem is special.

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