Just where it now lies I can no longer say
I found it on a cold and November day
In the roots of a sycamore tree where it had hid so long
In a box made out of myrtle lay the bone of song

The bone of song was a jawbone old and bruised
And worn out in the service of the muse
And along its sides and teeth were written words
I ran my palm along them and I heard

Lucky are you who finds me in the wilderness
I am the only unquiet ghost that does not seek rest
The words on the bone of song were close and small
And though their tongues were dead I found I knew them all

In the hieroglyphs of quills and quatrain lines
Osiris the fall of Troy Auld Lang Syne
Kathleen Mauvoreen Magnificat Your Cheatin' Heart
The chords of a covenant king singing for the Ark
Then I saw on a white space that was left
A blessing written older than the rest

It said leave me here I care not for wealth or fame
I'll remember your song but I'll forget your name
The words that I sang blew off like the leaves in the wind
And perched like birds in the branches before landing on the bone again

Then the bone was quiet it said no more to me
So I wrapped it in the ribbons of a sycamore tree
And as night had come I turned around and headed home
With a lightness in my step and a song in my bones
Lucky are you who finds me in the wilderness
I am the only unquiet ghost that does not seek rest

Lyrics submitted by geekusa

Bone of Song Lyrics as written by Josh Ritter


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Bone Of Song song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentI think the "bone" is a muse, since the bone's had relations to "Osiris, the fall of Troy, Auld Lang Syne, Kathleen Mauvoreen, Magnificat, Your Cheatin’ Heart", maybe..
    I don't know. I'm probably wrong..
    Sarahluvsu182on December 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYou're right on. It's a great story about something mytical (a muse, as abovementioned)
    chus_4on September 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"the chords of a covenant king singing for the ark" is a reference to King David, who has been called "Israel's sweet singer". Many of the psalms are attributed to him (including the 23rd, 'the lord is my shepherd', which josh references in 'rainslicker').

    i think this has to do with the idea that musical, and other kinds, of genius are somehow 'other' and apart from us; divinely inspired in a way.

    interesting the similarity here to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" which contains the lyric "I heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord".
    wookie007on January 24, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBone, like skeleton, that which he speaks of is the skeleton or the frame of all songs, it is what music is made of...and therefore, the muse, like Sarah said above.
    ilovetorunon July 05, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI was at a Josh Ritter gig where he expllained the thinking behind the song. The idea comes from how until the 19th century ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs had remained indescipherable for thousands of years until Jean-Francois Champollion through his work escentially found a key to understanding them all. Ritter pondered with the fanciful idea that every musical note ever composed in time might have a key that releases the meaning of every song in the same way that Champollion's key released the hidden meaning of hieroglyphs.
    Ladies and gentlemen, songmeanings.net is the bone of song!
    Ryder123on August 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenthe said in a British interview back in 2005 that the song came from a dream about a type of musical Rosetta Stone- I guess he was thinking about a kind of stone where music stems from- that explains the weird trippy disconnect and all the random references.
    tpeverett1on May 07, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionFor me this is simply one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.
    bp2uon January 12, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Commentself explanatory story. Great tune and lyrics.
    amhereston March 02, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentKathleen Mauvoreen was an Irish folk balad which was extreamly popular during the civil war. Here is a link to the lyrics arlingtoncemetery.net/…

    I agree with what others have said about a rosetta stone of music. In the end Josh gets to add his contribution to musical history. I love the lines "The words that I sang blew off like the leaves in the wind
    And perched like birds in the branches before landing on the bone again"
    sracoleon June 12, 2010   Link

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