Is it too near when they're nice?
Is that why there's sand in your eyes?
You should look up cause they're nothing at all
Blow me a kiss and I'll try
Wade through the mud and return wearing white
Hanging like clothes on a line
And I'll wait for you to spend all your time
Waiting like grapes on a vine
All of the goals you have yet to design

Wheels are off the track
I'm dripping everywhere
Eyes are in the clouds
While they pull the rug out
Pull me to the track
I'll give this a try
Down's the wrong way out
Fools himself to climb
But then you look back and wonder why
What made it so hard to decide
When the difference isn't black and white
Will the settled always have to fly for a home

Is it too near when they're nice?
Is that why there's sand in your eyes?
Don't wait, it's hard to get around when you're old
Blow me a kiss and we'll try
We'll scale the walls and go five miles high
We'll scale the walls and go five miles high

Wheels are off the track
I'm dripping everywhere
Eyes are in the clouds
While they pull the rug out
Pull me to the track
I'll give this a try
Down's the wrong way out
Fools himself to climb
But then you look back and wonder why
What made it so hard to decide
When the difference isn't black and white
Will the settled always have to fly for a home

Wheels are off the track
I'm dripping everywhere
Eyes are in the clouds
While they pull the rug out
Wheels are off the track


Lyrics submitted by sethbrown

The Shins song meanings
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20 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commentwhen you think of shins, you think of being kicked in the shins - immediately hurt but recoverably so. by that logic you could deduce that this is about a girl hurting him, but somehow I really doubt that's what it is. more likely, it's about being spurned by a larger group of people, (in my estimation, people in general.) i'm not going to give a line by line analysis, but the whole chorus seems to be about that kind of 'getting kicked in the shins' childish notion of pain - having his dreams pulled out from under him mid-dream - and about having to learn how to overcome that and pull yourself out of it.
    HopeSoForYouon July 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe Shins (the band) were named after the family the Shins, from the play The Music Man, which was a favorite of Mercers father and obviously had a great effect on him. I imagine this song is titled for the same reason, and some of the imagery is relevant to the musical.

    And I don't think Mercer writes too many songs about being heartbroken by a girl, because it's so trite. I firmly believe he was a great songwriter from the beginning, and any lyrics he writes about such cliche things like heartbreak wont be written from the same mold as every other pop song.

    The very first lyric, "Is it too hard when they're nice?" strikes me as an adaptation of the age old script where a thief deceives someone to get close enough to them to rob them of something, like the story of the Music Man works. After the thief gets close enough to his victim he then starts to feel empathy for them because they have been so nice, and it makes it hard to hurt them. Obviously this works on many more levels than that of money or valuables. I am not sure, however, how the rest of the lyrics fit into that mold. I imagine it evaluates the mindset of the wrong-doer.
    Alexander Coeon January 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe most Shins-esque of Flake Music's songs, and the one they got their next band name from. And thus was spawned my favourite band.
    stevenisgoodon December 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm still not too sure about some of these lyrics, but I couldn't find them anywhere on the net so I took my best shot.

    Love this song, though.
    sethbrownon February 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYay! I've been trying to figure out what the heck they're saying for a long time. This song and Spanway Hits (my screen-namesake) are the most almost-audible of the entire CD, basically. I'll try and write down the lyrics to that one and post it.

    To me, it sounds like "Wade through the mud and return wearing white/Hanging like clothes on a line/And I'll wait for you to spend all your time." Sort of like he's waiting for something that'll never come, comparing it to something that is impossible.. wading through the mud and returning wearing white. If we could tell what this song meant, that would help a whole lot. Also, "We'll scale the walls and go five miles high". But, either could fit.

    But anyway, no matter what he's saying or it means, it still sounds good. This song is great. My favorite line is "waiting like grapes on a vine".
    spanwayhitson February 25, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes! Thankyou, I edited those in. Haha maybe with everyone on this site's help we'll be able to figure out this whole album. Or, you know, James Mercer, if you read this, lend us a hand? Hahaha
    sethbrownon March 03, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHere are the correct lyrics:

    Is it too near when they're nice?
    is that why there's sand in their eyes?
    you should wake up, 'cause they're nothing at all
    blow me a kiss and i'll try
    wade through the mud and return wearing white
    hangin' my clothes on a line
    no way for you to spend all your time
    waiting like grapes on a vine
    all of the goals you have yet to design

    wheels are off the track
    i'm dripping everywhere
    eyes are in the clouds
    while they pull the rug out
    pull me to the track
    i'll give this a try
    down's the wrong way out
    footsteps left to climb

    when you look back and wonder why
    what made it so hard to decide?
    when the difference is in black and white
    i guess i will always have to fight for home

    is it too near when they're nice?
    is that why there's sand in your eyes?
    don't wait it's hard to get around when you're old
    blow me a kiss and we'll try
    we'll scale the walls that go 5 miles high
    we'll scale the walls that go 5 miles high

    wheels are off the track
    i'm dripping everywhere
    eyes are in the clouds
    while they pull the rug out
    pull me to the track
    i'll give this a try
    down's the wrong way out
    footsteps left to climb

    when you look back and wonder why
    what made it so hard to decide?
    when the difference is in black and white
    i guess i will always have to fight for home

    wheels are off the track
    i'm dripping everywhere
    eyes are in the clouds
    while they pull the rug out
    wheels are off the track
    ElvisAteMyDonutson December 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI absolutely love this song, took time to grow on me but wow. It definitely is one of the highlights of the album for me.
    Shyvanon January 02, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcan somebody tell me just what the hell the shins means?
    and what it has to do with this song?
    i wanna know what their band name means.
    and yes i know flake music members created the shins.
    whj247on January 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentalright, i listened to this song (incidentally my favorite) about 100 times before deciding to sit down and try to figure out what it means, and here's what i got:

    overall i think its about a guy who just got out of a bad relationship and doesn’t want to be hurt again; even though girls keep droppin him hints (blowing kisses), he still feels that theyre “too near when theyre nice.” when he tells himself that he will just go for someone’s love again, he “wades through the mud and returns wearing white,” meaning he went for it only to hesitate again (how can one wade through mud and return completely clean?). thus he remains, “hanging like clothes on a line,” “waiting like grapes on a vine.”

    eventually, however, he realizes that he’s already been derailed (wheels are off the track), heartbroken (dripping everywhere), and deceived (pull the rug out), and thus he has nothing to lose. he gets a grip of himself (“pull me to the track, i’ll give this a try”), perhaps with the help of the girl, and in the end “scales the wall and goes five miles high”

    looking back on this whole thing, he wonders “what made it so hard to decide,” and realizes that even though he may be beset by failure over and over again, if he wants something, he has to reach for it (“i guess i will always have to fight for a home”*)

    tell me if you get the same vibe from this song; perhaps we’ll be able to decipher a shins (flake music) song after all. as to why its called ‘the shins’, the only thing i can think of is that flake music already knew when they titled this song that they were going to become the shins in a few months, and perhaps the lyrics are representative of their drive toward success and recognition? i have no idea

    *these are the right lyrics, not “will the settled always have to fly for a home”
    plarkon January 20, 2007   Link

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