On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Eminem featuring Dido – Stan (2000)
” Stan” is a song by American rapper Eminem featuring vocals sampled from British singer Dido. It was released in October 2000 as the third single from Eminem’s third album, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000). It reached number one in 12 countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, and Australia.
We’re leaving France and Daft Punk behind today, dear reader, and making our way back across the Atlantic and to the US. Once there we touch down in Missouri. A spot of hip hop for us today and our guest is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, better known as Eminem. He began his career in the late 1980s and became notable as one of the pioneers of white performers in hip hop circles, previously dominated by black artists. When we join Eminem in 2000 he has released his third album, The Marshall Mathers LP, and from there 1001 Songs have lifted the track, Stan.
In Stan, Eminem recreates the troubling and sometimes frightening dynamic to be found between a music star and their fans. In this case we hear the tale of Stan who writes to Eminem multiple times, becoming progressively more unhinged with each new letter composed. He believes himself to be Eminem’s biggest fan but is let down at times by his hero. The song takes a dark turn with Stan recording some final thoughts for his idol before taking a drive in his car, his pregnant girlfriend locked in the boot of the vehicle. Upon reaching a bridge, Stan loses control and the car leaves the road, killing Stan, his girlfriend and their unborn child. The song concludes with Eminem writing a letter to Stan, pleading with him to get help and worried he may end up like a guy he saw on the news who had died when his car went off a bridge. The song’s ending is Eminem’s realisation that it was Stan he saw on the news and the words he writes that would have meant so much to his no.1 fan are now too little too late.
On this music journey I have enjoyed listening to hip hop though it is a genre I don’t find the easiest to get into. When I first heard Stan I was blown away by it. Dido features on the track as Stan’s pregnant but violently treated girlfriend and the tenderness of her voice contrasts with Eminem’s gritty portrayal of Stan. The song’s lyrics are so detailed and intricate, down to the tiniest details and the hammer blow of Eminem writing a letter to Stan that is too late hits hard every time. Mere words of mine do not do this song justice. This is a stunning track from start to finish and deserves a place on this list.
Favourite songs so far: