"Telling Stories" as written by and Tracy L Chapman....
There is fiction in the space between
The lines on your page of memories
Write it down but it doesn't mean
You're not just telling stories
There is fiction in the space between
You and reality
You will do and say anything
To make your everyday life seem less mundane
There is fiction in the space between
You and me

There's a science fiction in the space between
You and me
A fabrication of a grand scheme
Where I am the scary monster
I eat the city and as I leave the scene
In my spaceship I am laughing
In your remembrance of your bad dream
There's no one but you standing

Leave the pity and the blame
For the ones who do not speak
You write the words to get respect and compassion
And for posterity
You write the words and make believe
There is truth in the space between

There is fiction in the space between
You and everybody
Give us all what we need
Give us one more sad sordid story
But in the fiction of the space between
Sometimes a lie is the best thing
Sometimes a lie is the best thing

Oh the best thing
Is the best thing

Lyrics submitted by Nelly

"Telling Stories" as written by Tracy L Chapman

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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Telling Stories song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentI'll refrain from trying to speculate about Chapman's thoughts in writing this song (on grounds of respecting her personal/artistic boundaries as well as Barthesian grounds), but just in terms of what we're given with the song:

    This isn't just a description of any two people -- this is *everybody*. As much as we want and struggle to feel like we really understand another person, ultimately we can only construct our own fictions of everyone else and hope that those fictions are something that other people might see themselves in. Thoughts and language alike are "fiction", not the reality we try to describe; but "sometimes a lie is the best thing" in that we can sometimes recognize that *everything* we think we know is, to some extent, a "fiction", and that really the best we can do is to try to come up with a "fiction" which respects and is sensitive to the needs of everyone else that we base our fictions on.

    In other words -- this is a song about the impossible but necessary task of really understanding other people, and our failures along the way as well as our hopefully-reciprocal acceptance of the same failures in others.
    Professor Mon February 03, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm surprised no one has touched this one. TS is obviously directed to a fiction writer. The constant refrain: "there is fiction in the space between" shows that Tracy and this "person" have two different recollections of their relationship (that is obviously now over). Tracy's recollection (as far as she's concerned) is true, and the writer's is fictional. Tracy tells her ex that just because she writes things down, doesn't mean that she's 'not just telling stories.' Tracy goes on to show us how mellowdramatic her ex is as she paint tracy as "the scary monster" who 'eats the city as [she] leaves the scene'. But in truth when her ex wakes up from the nightmare there is no one but her standing.
    But apparently everyone expects mellowdrama from her author-ex and Tracy accepts that its not about her, its about how Alice Walker OOPS!, i mean... this "author" needs to keep being this dazzling author of the sad and sordid story in the public's eye.
    Tracy, you are the one that deserves the award for crafting YOUR rememberance of the relationship in this way!! I applaud your honesty!! And while it may not have generated the sales or mass appeal of other albums, "Telling Stories" is the Hejira of my generation!!
    CDHTUNEon October 16, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment..right on CDHTUNE. tracy is awesome ...what makes this song special to me is that yrs before it came out i would warm up and play the same exact chord structure as this song ...she put words to my music and doesnt even know it. well, i hope she does i emailed about it an havnt gotten a replay back yet. but when i first heard the song on the radio, and loving her to begin with i listened closly to the lyrics at first, the music was very cool too ...so i down loaded it when i got home and listened to it again, then again ...something sounded very familiar. when i picked up my guitar and started playing along i couldnt believe it. i'll be playing along to it for ever ...thanks tracy!!! i love you.
    DigitalRiot999on August 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI guess to me this song reminds me of my own life where in silence i create a fiction, a space to go where reality no longer exists. and like the last line sometimes you need that lie in order to exist.
    Rogue17Hawkon September 04, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTracy Chapman is a great poet/songwriter, I love this song.
    1stGospelon March 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think maybe they have totally different views of their relationship.like when she says there is fiction in the space between you and me.
    lucy02on January 06, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCDTUNE you are awesome!
    scrpdvaon October 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentCDTUNE you are awesome!
    scrpdvaon October 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI too have to give kudos to CDHTUNE.

    I'm just wondering about the last bit of the song 'sometimes a lie is the best thing'. Is she forgiving her? Is she saying maybe it was for the best they broke up? Is she saying a lie is better than the truth sometimes - the truth can hurt more?
    CrossStreamon May 04, 2010   Link

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