Tune in Tuesday: 5 Songs That Tell a Story and Have a Deeper Meaning

Tune in Tuesday: 5 Songs That Tell a Story and Have a Deeper Meaning

Carissa Ring, Author

  • Stan- Eminiem

 This 2000’s rap song follows fictional letters written by one of Eminem’s devoted fans, Stan. One of Stan’s defining characteristics is his mental issues. This becomes prominent as Stan begins to get increasingly angry at Eminem for his delayed responses. Stan goes as far as committing a murder-sucide by driving him and his pregnant girlfriend off of a bridge. At the very end of the song Shady writes back, telling Stan not to do some “crazy s***” then references a story he saw on the news about a guy driving off a bridge, killing himself and his girlfriend. In the closing seconds of the song Eminem realizes that it was Stan. After the song’s release, Eminem admits that he often feels stressed out by crazy letters he receives from fans, which was his inspiration for “Stan”. 

  • Swimming Pools- Kendrick Lamar

Although the meaning may be hidden by the beat, this song is actually about the struggles of alcoholism and peer pressure. Kendrick leads off the songs by mentioning how he has been surrounded by casual drinkers and drunks from a young age. As he grows older, Kendrick goes to a party and is watching how much he drinks when someone comes up to him, “Why you babysittin’ only two or three shots? I’ma show you how to turn it up a notch,” pressuring Kendrick to drink more. Peer pressure is a huge issue at parties nowadays and Kendrick highlights instances of that in his song.  “Drank” is sung 32 times throughout paired with varying actions “Sit down (Drank), stand up (Drank), pass out (Drank), wake up (Drank)” to symbolize the constant need alcoholics have to get drunk during even the most basic actions. Kendrick wrote this song to mislead the thrill of drinking and to point out negative effects that binge drinking can have on people. Alcoholism destroys many families today and, when overused, is a very dangerous substance.

  • 4 Your Eyez Only- J. Cole

 This nearly nine minute song is about the death of Cole’s childhood friend, James McMillian Jr.  The song is the tape that McMillian makes for his daughter Nina to have after his death. Cole raps the song from James’s perspective as he takes listeners through the struggles James faced. James lands himself in jail and has trouble finding a job as a black felon when he is released. James turns to selling crack on the street in attempts to make ends meet and provide for his family. As the song comes to a close Cole raps about a conversation that he had with James where James had a “funny feeling” that he was going to die soon. Cole made this song to bring recognition to the struggle that black people often face, as this scenario is all too familiar for many people in the black community. Cole recognizes this when he says, “This perspective is a real one, another lost ‘Ville son”. The goal of 4 Your Eyez Only was to, in Cole’s words, “ to humanize people who have been villinaized by the media.” 

  • Cinderella- Steven Curtis Chapman

This song about a father’s aging daughter is enough to pull at anyone’s heart strings. Throughout the song Chapman compares his daughter to the story of princess Cinderella. As the song begins a little girl is telling her dad that she’s been invited to the ball at an imaginary castle and she needs to practice her dancing. The dad happily dances with his little girl as he knows that she will grow up soon and wants to make all his time with her count. After a major time skip his daughter is going to prom with her boyfriend, who she swears her dad would be impressed by. She once again asks her dad to dance with her so she can practice her dancing. After the final time skip his daughter comes home wearing an engagement ring. With the wedding six months away she asks her dad to dance with her once again. “Oh, I will dance with Cinderella. I don’t wanna miss even one song. ‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight and she’ll be gone.” This part of the song shows that the father doesn’t want to miss anytime he has with his daughter. Steven then references the famous scene from Cinderella in which she leaves at midnight. He uses this to signify his daughter growing up and him having to hand her off to another man. The song takes on a whole new meaning after it was released. Only months after Steven’s biggest hit was released he lost his five year old daughter, Maria. His son had accidentally hit Maria when she jumped in front of the SUV as he was turning into the driveway. She died that day from blood loss and head trauma. Steven and his family were overcome with grief, leaving it impossible for Steven to sing the song he had made for his daughters. After months Steven was able to sing it again as the words took on a deeper meaning for him now, “ I have to sing it because I have to continue. These chapters that are still being written with my two little girls, Shaohannah and Stevey Joy, and my older daughter Emily, who is getting ready to be married… I need to be dancing with my Cinderellas.”

  • 3 Wishes- J. Cole

Cole, a very lyrical artist, makes it on my list for a second time. In one of his more underappreciated songs, Cole discusses what he would wish for if he had three wishes. In the opening lyrics of the song Cole mentions growing up with “killers”, which refers to his childhood friend. Cole raps “3 Wishes” like he was rapping it to his childhood friend.  He uses his first wish to help his friend’s struggling and poor mother. Cole’s stepfather often abused his mother and during one of the struggles Cole began to cry. His friend witnessed this, so Cole, embarrassed, wished his friend never saw him cry. He then quickly uses his last wish to save his mother from being beaten by his stepdad. As they grow older Cole’s friend goes to jail and when Cole goes to use his last wish to free his friend, he has no more wishes to use to free him. This song symbolizes that even if you can change things through things such as wishes, there is always going to be something out of your control. Something is always going to go wrong that you can’t fix, which J.Cole represents through the lack of wishes to get his childhood friend out of jail.