Roll the Bones

Background and Commentary

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.”

Lyrics

Well, you can stake that claim
Good work is the key to good fortune
Winners take that praise
Losers seldom take that blame
If they don’t take that game
And sometimes the winner takes nothing
We draw our own designs
But fortune has to make that frame

We go out in the world and take our chances
Fate is just the weight of circumstances
That’s the way that lady luck dances
Roll the bones

Why are we here?
Because we’re here
Roll the bones
Why does it happen?
Because it happens
Roll the bones

Faith is cold as ice
Why are little ones born only to suffer
For the want of immunity
Or a bowl of rice?
Well, who would hold a price
On the heads of the innocent children
If there’s some immortal power
To control the dice?

We come into the world and take our chances
Fate is just the weight of circumstances
That’s the way that lady luck dances
Roll the bones

Jack, relax
Get busy with the facts
No zodiacs or almanacs
No maniacs in polyester slacks
Just the facts
Gonna kick some gluteus max
It’s a parallax, you dig?
You move around
The small gets big
It’s a rig
It’s action, reaction
Random interaction
So who’s afraid
Of a little abstraction?
Can’t get no satisfaction
From the facts?
You better run, homeboy
A fact’s a fact
From Nome to Rome, boy

What’s the deal?
Spin the wheel
If the dice are hot, take a shot
Play your cards. Show us what you got
What you’re holding
If the cards are cold
Don’t go folding
Lady Luck is golden
She favors the bold
That’s cold
Stop throwing stones
The night has a thousand saxophones
So get out there and rock
And roll the bones
Get busy!

Roll the bones

Why are we here?
Because we’re here
Roll the bones
Why does it happen?
Because it happens
Roll the bones

Tablature

Excerpted from Fretplay.

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Vocals start here
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Pre-Chorus

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For complete tab, go to Fretplay.

Tutorials

“Roll the Bones” bass cover

“Roll the Bones” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 11, 2011.

 
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