By the bumper cars, in the pretty twining light, I may have gone too far, I may have gone too much too long. I'm a dull and witless boy. In the after bars, think I was sullied by a dream: in the killing jar, you and me at war at arms all falling in embrace.

Tell me why you lied and what it is you do to keep your eyes all shiny.

A tawny gypsy girl, sleeping blanketed by stars beneath the tilt-a-whirl where we were coyly caught alone all fumbling with your blouse.

Tell me why you lied and what it is you do to keep your eyes all shiny.

In the rollercoaster din, by the parachutes in saddle shoes you break your shin. But I have never seen two eyes so shiny.

And the sullen beery swine who try to tangle you in sullen beery balls of twine, have they ever seen two eyes so shiny?

The boys in denim vest, smoking cigarettes between their bootblack fingertips, sweetly tipsy by the half-light. The light and the half-light.

Tell me why you lied and what it is you do to keep your eyes so shiny


Lyrics submitted by gyroscope

Shiny Lyrics as written by Colin Meloy

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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Shiny song meanings
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43 Comments

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  • +2
    General Comment
    The song is about a boy falling in love for the first time at a carnival, and he believed at first that his lover was just as inexperienced as he was, but she isn't. All the "beery boys" know her too well. She lied by saying she was innocent. The shine he speaks of is the light of innocence in her eyes. How can someone have such innocent eyes and clearly be so worldly. The whole song is a tribute to the loss of innocence. How things and people that appear to be so fun, bright, and childlike (like carnivals) can, as you grow older, prove to be just a facade.
    mystdearon September 16, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    I've always thought of the shininess of her eyes as being a reference to drug use... but after looking up the whole "eye dilation" thing in relation to when you find a person attractive, suddenly I hear this song in a new way! you see, when you view a person you are interested in, your eyes will automatically dilate, and sometimes become covered in a thin layer of tears, giving your eye a shiny, wide look. this is something you can't control, so if you really dig someone, they'll be able to tell -- if they know what to look for. so, deny your feelings all you want, but your eyes will give away your lies every time. so now, whenever I hear this song, I think of it as the narrator being involved with this girl, and they have a fling during a summer circus or fair, and she winds up leaving the guy, claiming never to have felt anything serious towards him, but he finds himself reflecting on their time together, and the way her eyes always seemed to shine... which leads him to believe she was lying about not feeling the same way he did. ... although, I figure the song really is about drug-use induced eye shininess, but my theory is at least an interesting new take on it. =P
    delialon July 25, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    My personal interpretation is somewhat (entirely, really) different than everyone else’s, apparently. The way I see it, the narrator is an army man, and is obviously romantically involved with one of the other men in his regiment. The song just doesn’t make any sense to me, otherwise. The two get up to something in a carnival/fairground, and the tawny gypsy girl sees them from where she is sleeping and alerts the authorities, who, naturally, come running and arrest the two (I suppose they’re in some place/time where their actions would illicit such a reaction). The other boy lied, and now our narrator is fulfilling the consequences; maybe he is in jail or somewhere similar, being punished, and thinking about how the fellow he loved (or at least trusted) betrayed him. Or perhaps the other boy lied and took it upon himself, and the narrator is remembering his eyes as shiny, or perhaps visiting him in his penitentiary or something [I am sure you all get the idea]. As well, it does not make sense that the narrator would switch subjects from his brother-at-arms to the gypsy girl halfway through the third verse. He begins the stanza by discussing the girl, but then doesn’t seem to mention her again. I find it funny that it never occurred to me that this could’ve been his relationship with the girl, or any girl in general. It just seems like such a strange way to go about phrasing it, if that is indeed the intention of the song. Maybe I’m just thinking about it too literally. Either way, it’s my point of view and I like it. Cheers!
    scramblermanloveon October 09, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    Wow, I always thought this song was about rape? In the first verse, where he talks about "I may have gone too far, may have gone too much too long I'm a dull and witless boy"... thought this illustrated rape. Also, in the second verse, he talks about 'fumbling with her blouse'; this also fed into my personal interpretation. And that, coupled with the "Tell me why you lied, and what it is you do to keep your eyes so shiny" - I always figured she was lying about what really happened between them, maybe she said he raped her when he didn't, and he doesn't understand why, but she is able to keep an innocent face/ those innocent eyes.
    ThinkShesGotIton December 09, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Comment
    This song sounds like a confrontation with the "Tawny Gypsy Girl", maybe at a carnival. He fell in love with her. The Shiny reference is a reference to watery eyes or weeping. I think he's confronted her about cheating because of the flirting with the Sullen Beery Swine and the Boys in Denim Vests. And he's afraid it could all be in his head, referenced by calling himself a dull and witless boy. He's just not sure if she's really crying or faking it. That's my take. Beautiful song either way.
    rendalfon December 22, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    wow im surprised no comments, such a beautiful song.
    Arienetteon June 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    My favorite song of the moment, absolutely amazing
    zac_pon October 17, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    I love their lyrics...so much. :)
    hermajestyon December 05, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    Makes me want to learn to play the accordian.
    awesomeon January 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    i want to be a tawny gypsy girl. haha.
    thomas doyleon April 12, 2005   Link

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