"Shoehorn With Teeth" as written by and John S./flansburgh Linnell....
He wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth
People should get beat up for stating their beliefs
He wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth
Because he knows there's no such thing

He asks a girl if they can both sit in a chair but he doesn't get nervous
She's not really there

He wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth
Because he knows there's no such thing

Tour the world in a heavy metal band
But they run out of gas
The plane can never land

He wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth
People should get beat up for stating their beliefs
He wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth
Because he knows there's no such thing

What's the sense in ever thinking about the tomb
When you're much too busy returning to the womb?

He wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth
People should get beat up for stating their beliefs
He wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth
Because he knows there's no such thing


Lyrics submitted by qshapadooy

"Shoehorn With Teeth" as written by John Linnell John Flansburgh

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Shoehorn With Teeth song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentI always felt this song was fairly deep, as most TMBG songs tend to be, but I felt it stayed mainly to one particular theme rather than embracing the entire human psyche. I think many of these concepts have been brought up, but I thought I'd give it a go anyhow.

    I've always interpreted this song as about the great lengths man goes to selfishly escape uncomfortable situations. After all, the shoehorn itself pries the foot out of a tight shoe or boot, which seems to represent how man is constantly trying to pry himself out of the harsh reality of life by the easiest ways possible - violence and ignorance.

    I mean, beating people up when their beliefs are different from yours is the easiest way to get out of a wretched religious or political conversation. Why discuss why your way is more right than theirs when you could knock their block off and be done with it? I think the Johns are being mildly sarcastic (or ironic) with this song, this line in particular, because they know it's not the best way to go about it but it's how many people (governments, religions) go about it none-the-less.

    And what better philosophy than this one! If someone makes you uncomfortable, just ignore them and they won't exist! (he doesn't get nervous/she's not really there) If you don't like the fact children are starving somewhere, ignore them and they'll disappear off the face of the planet. If you hate a man who has your seat, take it because you can ignore him into inexistance! It's all so very simple!

    As for the plane, it's full of rock stars! The rich, the famous, the fabulous! They don't believe in death! So when their plane runs out of gas, they don't worry about crashing and dying---it just means that their plane will never land, because beautiful people don't die! Mortality is an uncomfortable thought! They must live forever!

    Then, at the end, I think they're talking about midlife crises as the theoretical shoehorn. Man goes through those midlife crises, doing all that stuff to make himself feel younger (returning to the womb) because for the first time he realizes that he, too, is mortal (worrying about the tomb)and he must keep death at bay. But no matter how many times man tries to escape death, uncomfortable situations, unpleasant people, etc., he knows, just like the shoe horn with teeth, that there is no such thing, no true escaping. But he does it all the same because if the shoe doesn't fit, you gotta get it off no matter the cost, be it to you or to other people. And that's how I've always saw it. *shrugs*
    beowolfe03on February 26, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAnother TMBG song that is easy to read too much into. He wants a shoehorn with teeth because he knows he can never have it. It is easier to want something unattainable because there is no danger in succeeding. It's like in high school when you have a crush on Mr. Popular, and how safe it is -- much safer than liking a friend of yours. The girl and the chair goes along with the shoehorn because he cannot be rejected by nobody. The "People should get beat up . . ." bit is ironic because he is stating a belief while condemning just that. The "plane can never land" is an old joke. I really like "What's the sense in ever thinking about the tomb / When you're much too busy returning to the womb?". It talks about taking risks -- why should we ever fear what can be when we can just rest on where we are? I know I am reading too much into all of this, but, hell, it's fun. That's what I love about TMBG.
    LittleBriddieon June 27, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTo me, the song almost sounds like the song is denouncing Christianity and saying it's a bunch of bull.


    He wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth
    (He wants something ridiculous, like a fake God)
    People should get beat up for stating their beliefs
    (A lot of Christians go door-to-door to spread the Word of God)
    He wants a shoehorn, the kind with teeth
    Because he knows there's no such thing
    (What's the harm in believing in a God that's not there?)

    He asks a girl if they can both sit in a chair
    (He asks Christ to take away his sins so he can get into heaven)
    But he doesn't get nervous, she's not really there
    (It ain't no big thang to ask, cause Jesus isn't really there)

    Tour the world in a heavy metal band
    (Live your life as a Christian)
    But they run out of gas, the plane can never land
    (It was a waste of time, and it never took anyone anywhere)

    What's the sense in ever thinking about the tomb
    When you're much too busy returning to the womb?
    (Why worry about what'll happen to you when you die when you can focus on having a good time on earth)


    So just for the record, I am a Christian, and even if this is what the song means, I still love the band. Probably the best thing to happen to music in the past 100 years...
    dr_chocolateon September 24, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the song is about wanting things that will never happen. Or things that you are to scared to go after.
    chillisunfireon March 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell, I, personally, think that the line(s)
    "What's the sense in ever thinking about the tomb
    When you're much too busy returning to the womb?"
    is (are?) a rather blatant sexual reference. Maybe it's just me, and my oddly shallow brain, but whatever.
    Bornyon April 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWow, I never thought of it that way. It DOES seem pretty sexual.
    cprompton August 21, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about a very opinionated and judgemental guy who never leaves his room for fear of being judged himself. He wants to fit into society but only on his own terms -which he believes can never happen. Hence the shoehorn with teeth. Touring the world with the heavy metal band, sitting on the chair with the girl all happen in his imagination while he's curled up in the fetal position in his bed. (returning to the womb)
    angryroboton July 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentUm...a shoehorn helps you put a shoe on, not take it off...
    TheThirdDukeon September 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthelps you take it off too. TRY IT! IT IT'S SO MUCH FUN!!!!
    Mr. Baconon April 16, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgood job beowolf and angry robot, nicely put.
    you may not know that 'returning to the womb' is a possible misconception of the christian idea of becoming 'born again.' in the bible nicodemus talks to jesus about how to be saved, and he doesnt quite understand that being born again means giving your life to god. 'how can one return to his mother's womb?'
    i think this somg, to some extent makes fun of religious bigotry. 'people should get beat up for stating their beleifs.' either they think that the bigots should get beaten up, or they are speaking from the point of view of the bigots in saying that anyone who disagrees should get beaten up. perhaps.
    dorkymagentaon July 01, 2007   Link

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