"Listen to the Math" as written by and Hook Wright....
You've been famous since your birth
A silent one it was till they told me, "It's a girl", and everybody gasped
I know how to raise you right, teach you how to read
And your math, yeah, toys, spelling, names, alphabet and how to be polite

You've been famous since your birth
A silent one it was till they told me, "It's a girl"
And everybody said, "You and your atlas know it all"
Let the corners curl 'cause if you go by night you'll hit the coast for sure

It's a ruse, its a laugh, experts they agree, listen to the math
Australopithecine, rekindle your heart
These hospital machines are state of the art

I put down my middle name in the back of her book
And signed it just in case our work was overlooked
'Cause I got one more up my sleeve, bring it out tonight
'Cause if I am the joke then you're the punch line

It's a ruse, it's a laugh, experts they agree, listen to the math
Australopithecine, rekindle your heart
These hospital machines are state of the art

But it's the art of the state that's gonna keep me awake
I need a second opinion not a second to waste


Lyrics submitted by shrodes, edited by bybymc

"Listen to the Math" as written by Graham Fraser Wright David Thomas Monks

Lyrics © SONGS MUSIC PUBLISHING

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Listen to the Math song meanings
Add your thoughts

31 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +3
    General CommentThe first stanza introduces the situation. A father/mother witness his/her daughter being born. Everyone expresses disbelief either because they were told it would be a boy or they were expecting a boy.

    The second stanza establishes the character of the parent as a good person. He/she gives the daughter a fair education and teachers her how to be polite. However, in the song the education portion is jumbled together quickly and the "polite" is said very clearly as if the individual is afraid they will be ridiculed for educating their daughter in such a way.

    The third stanza repeats the sentiments of the first solidifying the reaction of the onlookers.

    The next five stanzas consist of a pattern of comments f and then retorts from the father/mother.

    The first comment by the onlookers involves the atlas. The atlas serves to represent the knowledge that the daughter is allowed to learn. In essence it represents the fundamentals that she will need to move herself into the right direction. The onlookers then mention that she needs to keep the corners curled (when you hold a map open the corners curl; if you let the map go it will fold back up) or else she will hit the "coast" meaning she will go off course and be left with no where to go. Essentially she will fail.

    The father/mother then retorts saying that this is a "ruse, its a laugh". This reinforces the idea that the child needs no guidelines and should follow her own path. The parent then chastises the observers saying "Experts, they'd agree, listen to the math" or follow simple logic/use reason. They then call the onlookers "Australopithicine" which is an unevolved, pre-stone age humanoid from 4.5 million years ago. Basically, the ideas that a girl cannot act independently with her own power are extremely outdated. The speaker then urges the onlooker to "rekindle your heart" or to express compassion and understanding towards the child no matter its gender. The stanza then concludes with "these hospital machines are state of the art". This makes it clear that we are living in modern times, and such old and traditional ideals need to be put aside. This also reminds the reader that the speaker's daughter is still only a baby in the hospital and the birth has just taken place.

    The parent then puts down his/her middle name in the back of their daughter's book. This leads me to believe that the parent is the mother and the middle name is the maiden name which is traditionally in between the first and last name. Giving the daughter the maiden name as a middle name would be a kind of transfer of feminine power from one generation to another. The mother then signs it which signifies her fully claiming the child as her own. There is then mention of a "walk" which tells me the mother and daughter have embarked on a very meaningful journey together out of love. The mother then says she has "something up her sleeve" or something left to fight off every naysayer, because if they call her the joke then the daughter is the punchline or result of the joke.

    Stanza 5 repeats itself explaining again how ridiculous the idea of a baby girl being a joke is.

    The final stanza expresses that "the art of the state is going to keep me awake" meaning the power of motherhood will keep the mother guiding the child. She then needs "a second opinion" as in support from those intelligent enough to realize the value of a daughter and she doesn't have "a second to waste" meaning she can't hold off the ignorance of the world for very long without assistance.

    I also have another interpretation involving the daughter being born but not breathing. It's silent at the birth but babies generally cry when they are born. Mention of the "machines" being state of the art suggests that the baby could be hooked up to one for life support. I'd expand more on this second interpretation, but I've already written too much, so I'll let you all play with it if you want.
    Adultraliskon May 01, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt is definitely Australopithecine. I messaged Graham about that when I noticed it, to see if any of them had some knowledge of human evolution & anthropology. He replied and told me that it is in fact Australopithecine, and that Dave took a few anthropology classes at UT.

    Anyway, my take on the meaning stems from my own anthropological background. I believe Dave wrote this with Lucy in mind, the oldest known ancestor to modern humans that has thus far been found. This explains the female part, as well as being famous. However, as with the majority of Tokyo Police Club lyrics, I find that it is easier to simply enjoy and appreciate the songs rather than attempt to decipher every single meaning.
    rekindleyourhearton March 14, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentShould be, "Everybody gasped." instead of 'guessed', and 'experts' instead of 'ask books'
    Thief-on March 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe "(?) with the scene" line should, i think, be "australopithicine"
    prophetofdelphion March 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, i'm hearing "authralopithicine" too
    HomerunHenryon March 29, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI definitely hear:

    Teach you how to read
    And your maths ... to spell names, alphabet, and how to be polite
    thisisntjesson March 30, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"And signed it just in case our work was overlooked."
    SummerAnticson April 12, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenten.wikipedia.org/wiki/…

    ??? if that's what it is, what the hell does it mean?

    i love this song...i just wish i could figure out the lyrics more clearly instead of just humming when it comes to the parts i don't know >.
    conorificon April 27, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commenton second listen, i don't hear "australopithecine" at all...it's something something with the scene. god damn it. i'm no help.
    conorificon April 27, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn the second stanza it's definitely "I know how to raise you right, teach you how to read, and your math, yeah, toys, spelling, names, alphabet"

    And each of the ?'s after "listen to the math" is australopithecine. There is absolutely no other word that it could be, haha.
    Adultraliskon April 30, 2008   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain