One of the most special songs on Eminem’s extremely long list of songs is “Stan” for several reasons. The song talks about a fan named Stanley who obsesses on Eminem and would not give up on thinking, talking and writing about him. This obsessed state made all the real fans of Eminem to compare themselves to this guy ‘Stanley’ in the song. Henceforth, the fanbase of ‘Stans’ was built up around Eminem.
On another aspect, “Stan” speaks of an emotional torture endured by an extremist fan of the Rap God. His craze for Eminem peaks to such heights that he unintentionally kills his pregnant wife and himself. Eminem reflects on this as a message to his fans that too much of anything is just too much. This was fueled by actual letters written by fans to Eminem commenting disturbing things as mentioned in the song lyrics.
“Stan” was featured in ‘Marshall Mathers LP’ released in May 2000, and featured the harmonic voice of Dido on the hook.
Achievements of “Stan”
- Ranked #296 on Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ list
- Ranked #15 on VH1’s ‘Greatest Hip-hop Songs of All Time’ list
- Spot on ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.’
- Ranked #2 on Complex Magazine’s ‘100 Greatest Eminem Songs’ list
- The word ‘Stan’ included in the Oxford Dictionary to mean ‘An overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity.’
- 2x Platinum in sales in the USA, UK and Australia.
In an interview in 2000, Eminem talked about “Stan:”
“Basically it’s just about crazy fan mail that I get from people, and it’s about a kid who is really sick, you know what I’m saying? He takes everything I say literally like if I say I wanna slit my wrists then he wants to slit his wrists. He’s crazy for real, like I’m not, and it’s like everything I say he can relate to. So at the end of the song, he ends up committing suicide and driving his girlfriend off a cliff and it’s really crazy. But it’s kind of like a message to the fans to let them know that everything I say is not meant to be taken literally. Just most of the things.”
Watch “Stan” Music Video
In 2013, Eminem released a sequel to this song titled “Bad Guy,” wherein Stan’s younger brother Matthew avenges his brother’s death.
The Story of “Stan”
A young guy, so crazy and obsessed about an artist he seems to like- starts following and basically living the life the artist lives. The young maniac “Stanley” is so much involved with Eminem’s life that he simply starts worshipping the guy.
Stanley who prefers to be called as “Stan” starts writing letters and attending concerts in the hope that Eminem would reach out to him- his desire to be known as the biggest fan of the artist-Eminem.
Eminem who is not aware of the fact and seems to have not received any of the letters Stan has been sending and when he does find out it is too late. The purpose of the song is to make his fans realize that he does not ignore his fans or anybody purposely, also he wants his fans to know that his life is not easy and pleads them not to follow his life and to trust in themselves rather than celebrities.
Lyrics Review and Song Meaning of “Stan”
These lyrics are a sample of Dido’s “Thank You” song from her 1999 debut studio album.
These lyrics stand out from the theme of the song, except for the lyric which says ‘your picture on my wall.’ To Eminem, this line screamed of obsession, which fits perfectly with the song.
The fan “Stanley” writes a letter to Eminem out of frustration- he addresses Eminem as “Slim” (Eminem’s song “The Real Slim Shady” was quite popular he was later called as “Slim Shady”) showing some personal touch there. Having written a plethora of letters, pager, contact numbers and other details of contact and not being responded to, drives Stan crazy yet concerned.
Stan asking about Eminem’s daughter and Uncle Ronnie shows that he was so involved with the artist’s life that he had all the updates. This song was the first time Eminem mentioned about his Uncle, which means Stanley had information about Em’s personal life as well. Ronnie Polkingharn committed suicide in 1991 over the anger and frustration after a fight with his girlfriend. Stan also passes information of his personal life- all he wants is to be recognized by Eminem.
In the same verse, Stan keeps mentioning that he is Eminem’s biggest fan and all he wants is Eminem to respond to his calls and reply to his letters- JUST ONCE!!
Eminem also maintains an impeccable rhyming scheme throughout these narrative lines.
Eg: “bottom, got ’em, something, jot ’em.” “daughter, father, call her.” “Bonnie, sorry.”
With much stress on his mind and anger rushing through his head, Stan writes to Eminem- this time showing some concern and stating that he is calm and not angry. But when you listen to the song you will realize that the song is sung with anger and frustration.
Here he is actually angry not because Eminem neglected him but this time the aggression is for the sake of his little brother Mathew. Stan and his brother who is only six stay outside in the cold at Eminem’s concert for a long 4 hours just to get an autograph- which they didn’t receive. Stan thinks Eminem is purposely ignoring them.
Stan’s irritation on the promise Eminem had made at their meet up at Denver, where Eminem promises to reply to Stan whenever he wrote to him increases by the day. Stan believes he resembles Eminem by stating ‘I’m just like you in a way’. He has mentioned this in the song more than once. His belief that his childhood and his story growing up is much similar to Eminem- which also becomes the reason he involves his story (about his father cheating and always beating up his mother) in the song. Eminem’s songs seem to have given him the peace of mind and played an important role in Stan’s life during his struggle with depression.
The line where he says he used to cut himself to bleed just to feel the pain is very much disturbing and shows how horrible Stan’s childhood has been. His loyalty towards Eminem and his songs is shown when he boasts having tattooed Eminem’s name on his chest.
Jealousy arouses in his girlfriend due to the fact that Stan only spoke and thought about Eminem all day- he seemed so obsessed and involved in Eminem’s life- it concerned her. Here he stresses in the lines ‘no one knows how much I like you Slim’ this shows how much love and respect Stan had for Eminem. Stan feels that no one- not even his girlfriend would understand the difficulty he faced growing up- only relief he finds is by listening to Eminem’s songs-since Eminem’s songs always relate to his stories and Eminem’s life seems similar to his.
The last lines of the verse- Stan requests Eminem constantly to respond to him and contact him- he believes that he is Eminem’s biggest fan and Eminem cannot afford to lose such a sincere fan!!!
The wait for the letters is over- this time Stan records a cassette stating that this will be his last. He is angry Eminem hasn’t responded to his letters since past 6 months and he is sure he sent the address right the previous time.
He records everything he was doing- Yet again imitating Eminem by driving recklessly and fast. Drunk and depressed, this guy is about to commit some severe mistake. Hints are passed to Eminem that something terrible is to come. He even blames Eminem for his stupidity. Curses are thrown to make Eminem feel guilty of the crimes he hasn’t committed.
Stanley re-iterates that they could have been together. This has confused fans and Eminem in the fourth verse of the song. Eminem wonders if his suggestion is sexual. But the general annotation is that Stanley is deeply obsessed with Eminem that he would not mind sharing a room or personal space with Eminem.
The last lines show how Stan has tied up his girlfriend (mother-to-be) and dumped her in the trunk alive and that he was going to drown with her.
A reply from Eminem to Stan- showing concern and giving advice not to be too involved in his life and that he hasn’t ignored Stan on purpose.
Eminem advices Stan to get some counselling and further speaks about the news he received of a guy who drowned himself with his pregnant girlfriend- only to realize that the news was about the crazy fan ‘Stan’.
This song has been established as THE song for the fans of Eminem, although the craziness has subdued over the years. The song is still one of the most sought-after and performed songs by Eminem in live concerts.
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Full Lyrics to “Stan” by Eminem