You may notice certain things
Before you die
Mail them to me should they cause
Your algebra to fail

Cole and Macey lost their eyes
To the finer points
Roll them up in coffee cake and dine
You're alive, you're alive, you're alive, you're alive


Lyrics submitted by rudegirl, edited by Raven95

Your Algebra song meanings
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39 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentI agree with what ladybug87 said. (Especially about it not being about math...)

    But yes I agree the song seems as if it's meant to warn against the dark philosophical/existential holes one can encounter when finally confronting impermanence, particularly nihilism. Which is even worse than Christianity in my opinion... at least you can reason your way out of that hole.

    The children laughing at the end seems like an (intentional or not) callback to "Those to Come" and the way he feels about the mysterious nature of existence/life. That sense of mystery/wonder is hard for an intellectual to understand/concede to but it's necessary to have some sense of it to avoid slipping into some form of apathy/nihilism.

    If you gloss over Nietzsche's idea of the dionysian experience you miss the only glue that can hold his philosophy together, IMO that's what "lost their eyes on the finer points" is referring to. I'm not trying to place the Shins in a box or anything but their songs are often heavily laden with Nietzschean references.
    Dragnoxon September 20, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSeeing the big picture and not getting hung up on the details. How ironic that you're all picking it apart line by line!
    Chocolate Is Yummyon June 20, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAlright, now, let me explain this song to you simpletons. It's clearly about an Algebra teacher eating children. "You may notice certain things before you die" is clearly stating the facts that the children know when they're going to be chosen. "mail them to me should they cause your algebra to fail" most certainly means he mails the children's brains to their parents thus completing the transformation. "Cole and Macey lost their eyes on the finer points" is just too easy. Cole and Macey lost their eyes to a homeless guy with a fork. How could you miss that?! "roll them up in coffee cake and dine" is clearly a reference to the fact that he's learned how to make children into coffee cake. I personally think it sounds delicious. And the china kids at the end laughin' is pretty disturbing. They're enjoying being devoured. Kyo Kitty, you dang teenagers and your fancy ways of spelling "people" makes me sick. In my day, we actually spell out the word! I want you to think about what you and your kind has done to society! what the heck is that?!
    Champion57575on August 16, 2008   Link
  • +1
    Song Meaningfirst let me say, the shins are amazing, they blow my mind.

    " you may notice certain things before you die, mail them to me should they cause your algebra to fail." i think this line is saying - During your life you will discover things, they may confuse you (algebra to fail) but there's someone there to help (mail them to me)

    "cole and macey lost their eyes on the finer points. roll them up in coffee cake and dine." i think that cole and macey are random names, they may have some personal significance to the writer. i think the line basically means cole and macey were blinded by all of the intricate details in life most of them meaningless, they concentrated on the smaller things, unable to focus on the big picture (love, happiness, wellbeing)
    i'm not too sure about "roll them up in coffee cake and dine" but i think it means to cover them (cole and macey) up and get hide them (... and dine)

    i don't really know, i'm just speculating
    sprocket78on December 13, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"you may notice certain things before you die.
    mail them to me should they cause
    your algebra to fail."

    He is insinuating that he is a stronger person than the person the song is directed toward. He is saying, hey, if things get too complex for you, don't add up in any way that makes sense to you, and you think you can't take it anymore, come talk to me. I know how to deal with these issues (by simply realizing there's no point to worrying about it so much).

    "cole and macey lost their eyes
    on the finer points
    roll them up in coffee cake and dine."

    These people serve as examples of how people can get sucked into things that, in the end, don't really matter at all. They "lost their eyes on the finer points," meaning they imprisoned themselves in worry or contemplation about things that either don't matter, or have no answer. They are "finer points" because they are things usually well-educated people or people who want to sound intelligent talk about. He is using words that allude to the issue of rich vs. poor, I think to insinuate how if you can view life lightheartedly as he does, then you're actually a richer/wealthier person than any of them.

    I think the children laughing symbolizes a certain view of life. Sort of like they're laughing at people who take life too seriously, and make it too complex. A child's viewpoint is much less complicated, and it is kind of like these children are laughing at the person(s) whom the song is directed toward. Yes, I will not take life so mechanically--Yes, I will dream my own way, and have no worries--I will feed off the harsh complexities others create for themselves as I play in the park, because I have the ability to live life differently...and I am laughing at the funny people who let things (that really have no answers) affect them so much, that it causes them self-induced grief.

    Ha-ha! I'm living as carefree as a child! Nothing matters. And as I watch you stress yourself out, I'm laughing because you haven't figured it out yet.
    InaTheCuteon January 19, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsounds like something confusing or disheartening just happened to the writer and the constants in his life no longer make sense. (his algebra failed) sounds like hes pretty mad at these two people if he's going to roll them up in cake and eat them........
    androidon July 27, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst off, I have to say that this song is the creepiest thing I have ever heard.

    That said, I think that this is a reference to the way people tend to focus on things that in the end don't mean a thing. We've always accepted certain things simply because they were things we were supposed to do. Cole and Macey, for instance(cole and macey lost their eyes- on the finer points), were blind fools in sticking to the table manors and the Algebra homework.

    That I think might be the use of imagery for "lost their eyes." Because they were blinded by convention and tradition.

    Also, when it says "roll them up in coffee cake and dine.", this is an ironic way of saying "take them, people like them, and conventions as a whole and forget them" Life is too short. Don't waste your time with the rules(don't forget all of them by the way; but be prepared to be different). The only reason things are the way they are is because we follow them.

    Once agian, "The Shins" blow my mind.
    DCKuhlon October 22, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentReminds me of the movie Pi. Creepy as all hell.

    "You may notice certain things before you die." This sounds sarcastic. Is this addressed to someone who's not really living their life?

    "mail them to me if they should cause
    your algebra to fail." The addressed is living by a mathmatical equation. This person believes that there is only one solution to everything in life. DCKuhl used the word tradition. That's a pretty close interpretation to mine; I sort of agree.

    Cole/Macy could be people from the author's (I don't know which of the shins wrote this song) life, or it could be characters from a novel or anything. If anyone has any ideas, please post.

    "Roll them up in coffee cake and dine." This line reminds me of a conception of the Rich. Eat the Poor alive, wrapped in the nice things of life. Use the Poor people without consideration.

    I don't know if or how that fits in with the rest of the song. (Again, please post.)

    Here's a question: what's with the laughing kids at the end of the track?


    And amen, DCKuhl. The Shins are mind blowing. Peace.
    Greyshoeson December 11, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think James Mercer writes all there songs. This is in fact a very creepy song and the kids at the end just intensify that. I have to agree with you Greyshoes, your interpretation seems to be right on.
    evapor8edon March 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment*their. Woops.
    evapor8edon April 02, 2005   Link

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