Dry Bones

“I wrote this on the evening of the last measurable precipitation we had in the draught of ’88. I wrote it and then there was like 40 days of drought and then the very first time we ever played out as a band was on the Union Terrace here in Madison. It was an outdoor show and it hadn’t rained for forty days and we got out there, this was towards the end of the show, we played this song and I got into about a verse of that song and it started to rain.”

-From an interview, circa late 1996

Been talking up a storm with the dry bones,
In the valley of the sons of the dust
Where a drifter best throw no stones down
Upon the ways of the wicked and the just.
So I said to the bones “Come on walk it on home,
You been slain in vain, you been raised in the trust.”
Then the living breeze set all the dry bones free,
In the valley of the sons of the dust.

Them dry bones coulda been my bones.
Them rattling bones coulda been my own.

I hear the promised land married with the chosen ones,
In a ceremony down by the sea.
But there’s a pile of bones beneath the blistering sun,
Saying “Nothing in life comes for free.”
And I heard it once said from the Holocaust dead,
“You better choose well your enemies,
‘Cause their sins are your own when it gets to the bone,
In a bloody ceremony by the sea.”

Them poor bones coulda been your bones.
Them beaten down bones coulda been your own.

Been singing to the Coliseum crowds,
With the lions singing hungry harmony.
And I close my eyes when it gets too loud,
Knowing Daniel is keeping me in key.
It’s like standing alone in a room full of bones,
With the living breeze flowing outa me.
Then the crowd goes home and they take home their bones,
With the lions singing hungry harmony.

So if I’m making like an ass with the jawbones,
It’s ‘cause I’m kicking like a mule just to roll that stone.

repeat first verse


“Dry Bones” appears on Don’t Be Afraid and C’est la Vie.

© and ℗ 1989, 1997 Marques Bovre