“Mockingbird” single appears in Eminem’s 2004 album ‘Encore’ and is possibly one of the best rap verses by the Rap God and possibly one of the least lyrically aggressive songs in his portfolio. The song was nominated for the Best Rap Solo Performance at The Grammy Awards in 2005. “Mockingbird” is said to speak about Eminem’s two daughters Hailie and Alaina Mathers, and the song speaks of a tough time in their family life.
It is no secret that Eminem had a rough upbringing as a child and unfortunately enough the same habit continued to his family as well. Eminem’s then wife-Kim was ‘distant’ from the family and the song speaks of how Eminem is trying hard to console his daughters and be a good dad.
When RollingStone asked from Eminem himself of his inspiration behind the song, he said;
“…A song called “Mockingbird,” to Hailie and Alaina. When Mom was on the run they didn’t understand it, and I’m not the greatest talker in the world, especially when I’m trying to explain to two little girls what’s goin’ on with someone who’s always been a part of their life and just disappeared. So that was my song to explain to them what was goin’ on, probably the most emotional song I ever wrote…”
In the song, Eminem interpolates the popular nursery rhyme “Hush, Little Baby” and brings in another popular story “To Kill A Mockingbird” novel by Harper Lee, to socialize his message. This is also an indication of the versatility of Eminem as a lyricist.
Watch “Mockingbird” Music Video by Eminem
“Mockingbird” has a deeper meaning behind those flawless bars delivered by Eminem. The song is an in-depth ‘apology’ to Hailie and Alaina for how things turned out for them. Eminem says how bad the situation looks or gets, he will always love them with everything he has and would give up everything for them. Let us take a little deeper look at the lyrics to this M&M masterpiece.
Lyrics Review an Song Meaning of “Mockingbird”
Yeah, I know sometimes
Things may not always make sense to you right now
But hey, what’d Daddy always tell you?
Straighten up, little soldier!
Stiffen up that upper lip!
What you cryin’ about? You got me
Through “Mockingbird” Eminem reverts back to a time where Hailie and Alaina were two little kids and they were too small to understand anything that was going on. So, through the song, Eminem is trying to make sense of things going on.
Eminem calls the two kids ‘little soldiers’ because they have already gone through a metaphorical war at home.
When you cry, your lips tend to squiggle. M&M asks his daughters to stiffen that lips meaning try not to cry because he is there for them.
Hailie, I know you miss your mom
And I know you miss your dad when I’m gone
But I’m tryin’ to give you the life that I never had
I can see you’re sad
Even when you smile, even when you laugh
I can see it in your eyes, deep inside you wanna cry
‘Cause you’re scared, I ain’t there
Daddy’s with you in your prayers
No more crying, wipe them tears
Daddy’s here, no more nightmares
Eminem and his wife-Kim have had a troubled married life. Reasons beyond our knowing, their marriage had fallen apart and come back together more than once. This must have been quite hard on Hailie and Alaina who were left with Marshall. Eminem does not consider himself any saint in this situation either. He admits that he was on tour most of the time and trying to get a record deal to actually put his name on a CD. So he was out of the house for so long and more frequently than he would have liked.
But Eminem says this was all done with the hopes of giving his children a better life than what he had. But in the process, Eminem and Kim might have killed what they intended to achieve-hence is the irony of life–probably the reason why Eminem and Kim and their daughters are not together now.
We gon’ pull together through it, we gon’ do it
Lainie, Uncle’s crazy, ain’t he?
Yeah, but he loves you, girl, and you better know it
We’re all we got in this world
When it spins, when it swirls, when it whirls, when it twirls
Two little beautiful girls
Eminem tries to reassure the two girls that everything is going to be okay, but I assume his voice was breaking when he said that in real life.
Alaina is the daughter of Eminem’s wife’s twin sister. Eminem and his wife Kim have the custodian of Alaina at this time and they raised them both.
Watch Eminem Perform “Mockingbird” Live in NYC in 2005
Looking puzzled, in a daze, I know it’s confusing you
Daddy’s always on the move
Momma’s always on the news
I try to keep you sheltered from it, but somehow it seems
The harder that I try to do that, the more it backfires on me
While Eminem is explaining all of this to Hailie and Alaina Scott, all they look is confused. Obviously, they are too small to comprehend any of this.
Eminem says he was always touring and his wife Kim was on the news for all the bad reasons. Bottom-line, both of them were unavailable as parents for these two girls. Eminem tries to keep all of this negativity away from the kids, but somehow they backfire on him.
All the things growing up as Daddy that he had to see
Daddy don’t want you to see
But you see just as much as he did
We did not plan it to be this way, your mother and me
We have all heard the story of Marshall Mathers becoming Eminem-it is not pretty. The movie 8 Mile gives some insight into his life. In “Mockingbird,” Eminem says he tried to give a better life to the children than what he had to go through. But in the process of achieving that, both M&M and Kim exposed the kids to enough trauma.
But things have got so bad between us
I don’t see us ever being together ever again
Like we used to be when we was teenagers
But then, of course, everything always happens for a reason
I guess it was never meant to be
Eminem and Kim had a very rough marriage-getting married, divorced, and married again and again. It wasn’t a bed of roses and Eminem says he doesn’t believe that they will be a family ever again. Up to date, Eminem and his wife are separated. What seemed like a “forever” kinda love story as a teenager, fell apart, never to be mended again.
But it’s just something we have no control over
And that’s what destiny is
But no more worries, rest your head and go to sleep
Maybe one day we’ll wake up and this’ll all just be a dream
Eminem says even though he tried to make everything good for his daughters, things kept on falling apart and he calls it destiny. Sometimes things just don’t work out no matter how hard you try. Marshall Mathers wishes it was all a dream and they would one day wake up from it to a warm house with love and laughter.
Now hush, little baby, don’t you cry
Everything’s gonna be alright
Stiffen that upper lip up, little lady, I told ya
Daddy’s here to hold ya through the night
I know Mommy’s not here right now
And we don’t know why
We fear how we feel inside
It may seem a little crazy, pretty baby
But I promise, Momma’s gon’ be alright
Eminem tries to comfort the two girls and help them sleep through another night. Even though mom is not there with them, Eminem promises he will be right there with them.
Kim Mathers was a drunkard and an addict. She always got in trouble with the law and was running around doing god-knows-what. When the girls are worried and asking for their mom, the singer comforts them saying she is alright and will be back.
Heh, it’s funny
I remember back one year when Daddy had no money
Mommy wrapped the Christmas presents up
And stuck ’em under the tree
And said some of ’em were from me
‘Cause daddy couldn’t buy ’em
I’ll never forget that Christmas I sat up the whole night cryin’
“Mockingbird” reminisces back to a time where he was broke and out of luck with the rap game. His wife Kim bought all the presents for kids for that Christmas and told the kids some were from dad. It broke Eminem down and made him feel like an incompetent father and a husband who couldn’t provide for his family.
‘Cause Daddy felt like a bum – see, Daddy had a job
But his job was to keep the food on the table for you and Mom
And at the time, every house that we lived in
Either kept gettin’ broken into and robbed or shot up on the block
Eminem says he had a job to which he means his music or rap battles. But he says his real job was to provide for his family-which he failed at doing. It made him feel like a homeless person inside. This was presumably the year of 1996, as he was signed with Aftermath records in 1997.
They lived in Detroit which was overthrown with crime and gang violence back then. M&M says their house kept getting robbed and even getting caught in the line of fire of gangs, which did not help with their economic situation.
And your mom was saving money for you in a jar
Tryin’ to start a piggy bank for you so you could go to college
Almost had a thousand dollars
‘Til someone broke in and stole it
And I know it hurt so bad it broke your momma’s heart
And it seemed like everything was just starting to fall apart
Kim started collecting money in a jar for Hailie’s education and she had accumulated some amount when they got robbed and the money was stolen. A thousand dollars in coins is a lot of money and a lot of belt-tightenings. So it comes as no surprise that the theft left Kim and the whole family broken. This had a domino effect on the stability of their relationship as well.
Mom and Dad was arguing a lot
So Momma moved back on to Chalmers
In the flat, one bedroom apartment
And Dad moved back to the other side of 8 Mile on Novara
Fights got intense between Eminem and Kim and she moved out of the house. Even Eminem moved to 8 Mile-a street in Detroit.
And that’s when Daddy went to California with his CD
And met Dr. Dre, and flew you and Momma out to see me
But Daddy had to work, you and Momma had to leave me
The cornerstone in Marshall Mathers’ life is meeting Dr. Dre who spots his talent and signs him in his record label, Aftermath. After that Eminem tried to re-unite the broken family to little success.
Then you started seeing Daddy on the TV
And Momma didn’t like it
And you and Lainie were too young to understand it
Papa was a rolling stone, Momma developed a habit
And it all happened too fast for either one of us to grab it
After signing up with Dr. Dre, Eminem was full throttle on his music career as he was recording new music and was on tour nonstop. He has been broke for too long and this fame and success got him hooked up on music. And Kim got hooked up on drugs. Kim was either jealous of seeing Eminem succeed or did not like the fact that he was not home all the time. And things were spiraling so fast-like a rolling stone-that neither of them was able to get a hold of the situation and things kept worsening.
I’m just sorry you were there and had to witness it first hand
‘Cause all I ever wanted to do was just make you proud
Now I’m sittin’ in this empty house
Just reminiscing, looking at your baby pictures, it just trips me out
To see how much you both have grown
It’s almost like you’re sisters now
Wow, guess you pretty much are, and Daddy’s still here
Lainie, I’m talking to you too, Daddy’s still here
I like the sound of that, yeah, it’s got a ring to it, don’t it?
Sssshhh! Momma’s only gone for the moment
The last bit of the second verse of “Mockingbird” is a heartfelt apology to both Hailie Jade Mathers and Alaina Scott Mathers. Eminem says he did not intend either of them to witness what they did. They had to grow up watching a family fall apart which is the exact thing Eminem tried to avoid happening.
Now in 2005, Eminem is quite alone-separated from his wife and estranged from his mother, and not being able to see his daughters. If he was given a second chance, we think he would do things differently and maybe the world would never have a Rap God.
And if you ask me to, Daddy’s gonna buy you a mockingbird
I’ma give you the world
I’ma buy a diamond ring for you, I’ma sing for you
I’ll do anything for you to see you smile
And if that mockingbird don’t sing and that ring don’t shine
I’ma break that birdie’s neck
I’ll go back to the jeweler who sold it to ya
And make him eat every carat, don’t f*ck with Dad! (Ha ha!)
The outro of “Mockingbird” is possibly one of the most famous lines from Eminem ever.
Eminem says he would do anything to keep his daughters happy and see them smile. That could include killing the mockingbird he bought for them. “To Kill A Mockingbird” is to destroy innocence and Eminem says he would cross all the boundaries for his daughters.
These last few lines are the only intense lyrics from “Mockingbird” and even that is for a good cause. And he plays on words with karat measurement and carrots and cusses in the last line of the song.
Throughout Eminem’s career “Mockingbird” is one of the most personal and emotional tracks ever written. Eminem has been spotted crying while performing this song live on stage at times. That alone tells how much guts and emotions he has poured into these lyrics. Respect!
We thoroughly enjoyed interpreting the lyrics to one of the greatest rap verses ever written by Eminem. “Mockingbird” may relate to you on a different level than to someone else. What are your feelings about this song and its lyrics? Let us know why you fell in love with this song and what made you discover this article.
Comment your favorite line from “Mockingbird” and why in the comments below and we will try to make it a discussion.