Roll the Bones: Background

The piece, which looks at the elemental question of why we are here, reflects a game-show theme style and is infused with folk guitar, funk, rock, and rap—Robert Telleria, Merely Players

“I decided that ‘Why are we here?’ was the wrong question. The reason why we’re here is because we’re here. The real question ought to be, ‘What can we do about it?’ There is so much tragedy in life that is just a chance occurrence.” (Albany Times)—Neil in Merely Players

“The lyrics were written very much in concert with contemporary rap music, the way the words react against each other. To a degree we are having fun with that. We couldn’t make up our minds if we wanted to be influenced by rap or satirize it, so I think that song falls between the cracks and in the end I think it came out to be neither; it came out to be something that is very much us.” (Radio Special)—Geddy in Merely Players

The internal rhymes and wordplay of rap “is meat and potatoes for a lyricist; it’s stuff you love to do but being so cute is something you can seldom get away with in a rock song. So I thought, ‘Well, I’ll give it a try,’ and I submitted ‘Roll the Bones’ without that rap section to the other guys and got them to like it, and then said, ‘Well, I have this other thing I’ve been working on, and see what you think.’ My notebook’s full of things that haven’t made it. They got excited about the idea, but then how to treat it was the other question. We did think of trying to get a real rapper in there, and we even experimented with female voices, and ultimately found that the treated version of Geddy’s voice was the most satisfying in terms of creating the persona we wanted and that was also the most satisfying to listen to.” (Radio Special)—Neil in Merely Players

The song was given a poignant interpretation by a row of handicapped fans during the band’s show at the famed Red Rocks Ampitheater outside of Denver during the 2004 R30 tour. They were laughing wildly during the part of the song that asks the question “Why are we here?” At that line, they would point to their wheelchairs and say, with the music, “Because we’re here!” “That was a strange and beautiful response to the song, and to us,” Neil says in his book Roadshow
, “and an apt interpretation of those words. My smile of appreciation for their spirit was bittersweet.”

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~ by rvkeeper on January 12, 2011.

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