Eminem’s “When I’m Gone” Lyrics Meaning

Thematically Eminem’s “When I’m Gone” is based on the same fundamental principle as “Mockingbird”, another track Eminem dropped a short time prior to this one. That is to say “When I’m Gone” finds Eminem lamenting primarily the state of his relationship with his daughter, Hailie Jade. And the main source of his gripe is that, due to his professional lifestyle, he is not able to spend as much time with her as he deems adequate. Indeed when he does go to visit her, she tries to physically prevent him from departing again, which is like a stab to the heart emotionally since he still has to go. 

And overall he portrays their association as one where he has to falsely give her the impression that he would not leave again and basically take advantage of her childhood naiveté in that regard. But as such (when he breaks his word and actually does leave) it only adds to the heartbreak experienced for both parties involved in this scenario.

But unlike “Mockingbird”, in this song Eminem definitively portrays his relationship with his ex-wife and Hailie’s mother, “Kim”, as a tumultuous one. And the way this fits into the aforementioned storyline is that Hailie is more or less a witness to the beef between her mom and dad. And this of course adds to the sadness she is already experiencing due having a habitually-absentee father. And accordingly, Eminem is also disturbed that he and Kim can’t get along, if even only for the sake of sparing Hailie’s feelings.

Difference between “When I’m Gone” and “Mockingbird”

The main aspect of “When I’m Gone” which differentiates it from “Mockingbird” is that on this track Eminem is looking at the big picture. Or more specifically, he penned it at a time when he was at a metaphorical crossroad, as in not being sure where his musical career was headed and apparently was even contemplating ending it. And he wanted to initiate some significant changes as a result. So for instance, to him the release of this song signified “the death of Slim Shady”, which is his more-vociferous, off-putting persona.  But more specifically, what the death of Shady (via a symbolic suicide) as detailed in the third verse is actually supposed to represent is Eminem forsaking his life as a musician and instead dedicating his time to Kim and his daughters, which obviously was a fantasy of his.

Song’s Main Thesis

Eminem also gets quite philosophical in the chorus, where he is fictionally addressing Hailie from the afterlife. And what he is relaying can be considered the actual thesis of “When I’m Gone”. And that message is simply that his love for her is undying. He is basically telling Hailie that even though he may not be with her physically, she is always in his thoughts, and his care for her is apparently his utmost concern. So accordingly his love and care are two things which she should never feel devoid of.

Lyrics of "When I'm Gone"

Music Video

The track’s music video was directed by Anthony Mandler and features reality-TV personality Tarick Salmaci.

Two of Eminem’s daughters (Hailie and Whitney Scott) along with his ex wife Kim also make appearances in the clip. It should be stated that Whitney is Eminem’s adopted daughter. Kim gave birth to Whitney after she and Eminem divorced for the first time. Despite Whitney being the child of Kim’s former lover, Eminem still went ahead to adopt her.    

Release Date of “When I’m Gone”

“When I’m Gone” is one of three original songs that was released as part of Eminem’s compilation album “Curtain Call: The Hits” on 6 December 2005. And it served as the lead single from that project.

Writing of “When I’m Gone”

Eminem (and Luis Resto) actually wrote this song in 2003, a couple of years prior to its release. It was apparently featured on “Curtain Call” due to it lending to the idea that Eminem was on the verge of retirement. And Em’s retirement was the underlying theme of that project.

A successful Song!

“When I’m Gone” proved to be a great success for Eminem. It got to the number 4 position on the UK Singles Chart. And in America, it reached position number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Furthermore, it also appeared on the music charts in over 10 other countries.

The track also went quadruple-Platinum in the United States.

 Who produced “When I’m Gone”?

Eminem is the sole artist credited with producing “When I’m Gone”.

        

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