Analysis of the song “Stan” by Eminem ft/ Dido

Posted on February 26, 2010 by maritzab89.
Categories: Uncategorized.

The Song

            “Stan” was one of the biggest hits of the year 2000, not only did it help turn the The Marshall Mathers LP platinum nine times, but it also harvested a large amount of rave for a then 27 year old rapper named Eminem.  The positive criticism Eminem received would legitimize him as a serious artist in the eyes of cynic critics that once bash him for songs like “my name is slim shady” which they scrutinize as silly and sophomoric.  This new type of success would set him apart from other rappers, and help his music cross genre borders making him available for a whole new world of audiences.

            “Stan” uses the opening the chorus lines of “Thank you” (made by British popstar Dido) sporadically throughout the entire track while Eminem rhymes a fictional story between him and an obsessed fan named Stan.  The story is a dramatic narrative told through a series of messages in the form letters between the fan and the artist; the dialogue escalates into argument and culminates in tragedy.  The song is also aided by a series of sound effects that help the story move along.

            In the first part we hear the soft cadence of Dido’s “Thank You” slowly growing in loudness and drowning a sound effect of rain pouring down in the background, it is a storm that symbolizes the emotional feeling the character is living through.  Because of this important sound effect we can immediately tell there is something wrong in Stan’s life, it is agony.  There is another sound effect that comes right after and it is that of a pencil scribbling frantically, as if in a desperate need for help.  Stan is writing to Eminem expressing his commitment as a fan “I got a room full of your posters and your pictures, man“, trying to connect with the rapper “My girlfriend’s pregnant too”, and trying to reach out ” I read about your Uncle Ronnie too I’m sorry”. 

            The second part is also told in Stan’s point of view.  Once again he tries to connect with his hero but this time the wall of demeanor is weakened when Stan confesses to some bizarre behavior, like cutting himself to try to feel more like Eminem, and fighting with his girlfriend about his obsession “My girlfriend’s jealous cause I talk about you 24/7”.  The most important clue of what is about to happen however appears on the second line “I ain’t mad – I just think it’s FUCKED UP you don’t answer fans” in one breath Stan is poised and pleasant, and in the other we get a taste of his anger and madness. 

            The third part contains Stan’s final letter.  Stan is now unrestrained, angry and drunk, he has kidnapped his girlfriend who is pregnant with his child “Hey Slim, that’s my girlfriend screaming in the trunk” and pretends to kill her “if she suffocates she’ll suffer more”.  The tone expresses the anger and pain Stan was feeling at the time brilliantly evoked by Eminem.  Stan’s story ends with him losing control of the car he was driving and accidentally driving off a bridge into the water below.  This part is reminiscent of the stormy opening but now Stan completely drowns in his own sorrow.

            The final part is Eminem reply to Stan. The tone is apologetic and calm.  Eminem tries to answer all the questions poised by Stan in his numerous letters.  He offers advice and shows concern about his fans safety “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” The song then ends abruptly as the the rapper realizes who he as been writing to. 

            Worth mentioning are the references to other Eminem songs in bits and pieces of dialogue for instance Stan mentions in one verse that he was going to die, not alone but with his pregnant girlfriend who was locked at the trunk, this is a direct reference to Eminem’s song “97 Bonnie and Clyde” where Eminem is drives towards a lake with his girlfriend “Kim” in the trunk. This song was heavily criticized because of the violent an chauvinistic elements it contained.  He also makes reference to Phil Collins song “In the Air tonight.”  This song is about a Collins seeing a man drowning, while a bystander who is watching doesn’t do anything to save him.  Stan’s objective when mentioning this song is to make Eminem feel guilty for not being an active participant in Stan’s life. 

 

The impact

            As I mentioned before, the real impact of this song was the fact that it was received well by critics.  While Eminem’s past success was enormous already he did not have the legitimacy that positive criticism brings to an artist.  The song is considered as one of the most original rap songs ever made, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it as one of the greatest songs of all time.  MTV hail it with their “Moonmen” at their annual award ceremony, and VH1 placed the song as the second best rap song in their Millennium Countdown.

            Eminem’s talent resides in his capacity to transform serious subjects into valued material that is good for both his work and his character.  “you coulda rescued me from drowning “, wrote Stan; “why are you so mad?  —Responds Slim—.  Try to understand. ..”.  Stan, as other works of Eminem, explores the deepest experience of humanity: the insanity, the terror, the melancholy and (not to mention its importance) the laughter.  Under this perspective, Eminem is not “genuine voice of the working class” like many would like him to be, or a “gross intolerant vagrant”, like many used to think about him,  but instead he is a rapper whose genius is, above all, poetic. 

Video

Eminem- Stan Ft/ Dido

Lyrics

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’d all be gray,
put 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 something
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 phat
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 fucking 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 being 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 with 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 ‘cos 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 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 trying 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 am I supposed to send this shit out?

{Chorus: Dido}

[Eminem]
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 clowning dog,
c’mon – how fucked up is you?
You got some issues Stan, I think you need some counselling
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
Damn!

Works Cited

New Music Videos, Reality TV Shows, Celebrity News, Top Stories | MTV. Web. 26 Feb. 2010. <http://www.mtv.com>.

Rolling Stone: Music News, Reviews, Photos, Videos, Interviews, Politics and More. Web. 26 Feb. 2010. <http://www.rollingstone.com>.

“Stan (song) -.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 26 Feb. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_(song)>.

Top 20, TV Shows, Full Episodes, Music Videos, Photos, TV Schedule | VH1. Web. 26 Feb. 2010. <http://www.vh1.com>.

“YouTube – Eminem – Stan ft. Dido.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Web. 26 Feb. 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOMhN-hfMtY>.



Comment on February 27th, 2010.

Very insightful Miss Bolivar, I never realized the little details involved in this song, like the water recurring element, I always found water in movies and songs to symbolize cleansing, maybe the death or disappearance of the guy Stan could also mean the purging of Eminem’s past. You mention Stan references other Eminem songs like “97 Bonnie and Clyde” songs like that embodied all the worst things Eminem used to do or sing about… not that he is an angel now, but he used to be maniacal!!! He is now free of them, like he is free of Stan. You are also right about the criticism, people take the artist more seriously than their art, no wonder there are so many bland and boring artist who play it safe just because they want to please everyone. Usually I hate rap, but I am going to give hip-hop a second chance after this. Thank you for your post.

Comment on February 27th, 2010.

Hey Mari! Your song analysis of “Stan” by Eminem brings back memories of when I first heard this song in High School. I do agree that the media’s criticism of Eminem’s persona should not take away his talent to,”transform serious subjects into valued material that is good for both his work and his character:” which is evident in the song. I’m also glad that you included the fact that the chorus of the song was indeed taken from Dido’s song “Thank You.” Many people during that time criticized Dido for becoming popular because of her part in Eminem’s song when in reality it was Eminem who took that chorus and incorporated it into his song. Dido’s chorus from “Thank You” further enhances the meaning of the song.

Comment on March 1st, 2010.

This is a great choice coming from the most successful artist of the last decade. Eminem is a genius and brings folk traditions to hip-hop. In a way, he reminds me of Bob Dylan with his story-telling techniques. Touching upon the fact that this song was a response to the reaction elicited by his past material is the highlight of your post. I think part of what he is saying is that people should not take his message so literally. Do you think he is saying that Stan is influenced by his music or that Stan is crazy regardless of Eminem’s music?

Comment on March 1st, 2010.

being very honest… i used to have nightmares about this song… the way eminem words his narratives paint a picture that’s scary as hell in this case

Comment on March 2nd, 2010.

Thank you all for your wonderful comments! Jamie- I do believe Stan had issues which required medical help.

  Justin Barreto
Comment on March 2nd, 2010.

Great analysis of the song. This song has definitely made its mark music. I remember when this song came out it sparked a lot of great commentary along with its video. I think that whenever a song is able to do that it is able to prove its significance in music history. In addition, Eminem is a very controversial artist and I agree with your statement that this song helped him legitimize himself as a serious artist.

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