Beyoncé taps into her legacy in new song '16 Carriages'

During the 2024 Super Bowl, Beyoncé announced a new album and debuted two songs, including the poignant "16 Carriages."

While the album's title has yet to be confirmed, fan theories (correctly!) predict she'll take a country approach on her next album, the second act of a three-part project that's begun with Renaissance in 2022.

In "Sixteen Carriages," Beyoncé returns to a line about watching the eponymous caravan drive away with her dreams. “On a long road, I fight all the tears,” she sings, before extending the imagery of loneliness into the first verse.

“At 15, innocence went astray/Having to leave home at a young age,” she continues. “I see my mother praying, I see my father struggling/All my tender questions have to be left behind.”

In the pre-chorus, Beyoncé sings that she's no longer in bed but traveling on a bus with the band, describing the lifestyle of a touring musician and seemingly recalling her early days on Destiny's Child .

She also mentioned that she felt "underpaid and overwhelmed" while away from home, but she continued to live on the road because she was committed to choosing herself.

Cover of "16 Carriages". @beyonce/instagram

The obvious allusions to Beyonce's real life and career continue later in the song. "It's been 38 summers and I haven't been in bed," she sings. (She previously explained on her website that she recorded the three-act project during the pandemic; she would have turned 39 in 2020.)

"It's been so hard and now I miss my kids/overworked and overwhelmed," she said. But as she matures, the song's perspective on those titular carriages changes—they no longer take away her dreams , but her fears. She also seemed to have a newfound appreciation for her artistic purpose. “Legacy is the last thing I do/You’ll remember me because we have something to prove.”

Given the seemingly diary nature of "16 Carriages," it's no surprise that it quickly became a Hive favorite. One fan on X (formerly Twitter) described it as the "most personal song" they'd ever heard from a Grammy-record producer.

"She has never told her personal story like this," another user noted. "Going from a young girl to a woman in this industry. Damn. That was beautifully written."