I admit it: I know almost nothing about rap. So much of the content seems to be about issues I can’t connect to, for one reason or another, and I’ve possibly just spent too much time listening to melody to care that much about rhythm exclusively. (After a moment’s pause, I realize that you can lump these two “reasons” together as the Geezer Defense.)
Anyhow, as little as I know about rap in general, so much less do I know about any given rap performer. Eminem has certainly made himself hard to ignore, though. And as I worked through various online lists of story songs (it’s a popular blog and Q-and-A forum topic), I kept coming across references to this number. The title character is not just a fan of the narrator, Eminem, but a fan ultimately obsessed to the point of danger: to himself, to his girlfriend, to his baby she’s carrying. From his room, wallpapered with Eminem’s concert and publicity photos, he keeps composing rambling bipolar letters to his idol, growing ever more frustrated that he never gets a reply. The tale ends (as story songs tend to) in tragedy and irony, as Eminem finally sits down to write a return letter — only to realize that the guy he’s writing to is the very fan who’d recently driven off a bridge (with his pregnant girlfriend locked screaming in the trunk of the car), leaving behind for Eminem a melodramatic, delusional taped message.
Omitting some of the more violent imagery and language, this sanitized version of the song and video clocks in at around 25% shorter than the full eight-minute epic. (That version is also on YouTube; I haven’t watched it, but apparently — judging from the comments there — the audio in the longer one, too, is bleeped no less heavy-handedly than this one.) The lyrics I’ve linked to below, though, are as far as I know the full and unedited ones. Favorite moment: when Stan, speaking into the tape recorder while he drives, suddenly realizes that if he dies in a crash he won’t be able to mail the thing to Eminem. (To me, this hints that he doesn’t really mean to kill himself and his girlfriend, and maybe just drives off the bridge in panicky indecision rather than deliberation.)
The video takes the tell-the-story-literally approach, with some artful touches in photography, lighting, and effects, but nothing very much like moody symbolism or implication. Actor Devon Sawa plays the Stan character; British singer-songwriter Dido, whose song “Thank You” is sampled for the chorus, takes the role of Stan’s girlfriend.