Good Bones song


Earlier in 2016, poet Maggie Smith published the poem "Good Bones".

It expresses very directly the struggle any parent has, to try to frame this flawed world to their children as an enticing place.

It became a very popular poem online in the wake of the Orlando shooting, and it is passed around again with fresh currency every time something awful happens. This recent Washington Post article is a good survey of the year it's had.

I was struck by it personally, like so many others; it dug into me. After admiring it for a long while, I started to wonder if it would work as a song (even though it's been many years since I've tried to compose or arrange music).

I noodled around a bit with possible melodies, thinking about different approaches like "what would Suzanne Vega do with this text?" Or Joe Jackson? Or Lin-Manuel Miranda? And on and on, trying out different approaches.

Eventually I reached a melody line I was happy with, and it solidified to the point where I couldn't hear any other competing melodies in my head. (I'm pretty curious to hear other musical settings of it now, since I expect they'll be completely different.)

Once I was happy with the shape of it and convinced myself it would be worth sharing, I wrote to Maggie Smith requesting permission to compose, publish, record, etc. She generously agreed, and so I've been working on polishing it into a final form.

Without further ado, here is a demo (unfinished) version of my "Good Bones" song that you can listen to (click to download the mp3 file)... I hope to post a more polished recording in the near future (for sale on iTunes and Amazon), but for now I'm sharing this.

UPDATE: I originally posted a demo version of the song; now that it's released, here is a preview version of the real thing:

See the update post for links to Good Bones on major music services.

And here is a draft of sheet music for it, if you're curious to see: piano & voice, PDF.

I'm curious for feedback -- I haven't done this exact sort of thing before. I'm easy to reach on Twitter (@nowthis) and on email (same handle @


This is really beautiful.

I like it, Steve. I like how you matched the mood of the song to the poem, and how you arrange the tricky phrases so that they didn't draw attention to the notes, but rather to the lines.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve Bogart published on December 28, 2016 2:27 PM.

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