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Josie - "dance on the bones"

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by GregM, Feb 23, 2021 at 2:30 AM.

  1. GregM

    GregM No static at all Thread Starter

    Daddyland, CA
    I just had an epiphany about a line from Steely Dan's Josie, "Dance on the bones till the girls say when." At first it just seems a simple reference to sex, but you know with Fagen it's never that simple. His lyrics are littered with double entendres that somehow mix sexual connotations with jazz lore, e.g., the fez as a condom and the hat worn by his jazz heroes like Bud Powell.

    Dance on the bones is another such double entendres. The crude interpretation would be sexual intercourse. But the more literary interpretation is a reference to bones recordings, also called ribs (рёбра, translit. ryobra), music on ribs (Музыка на рёбрах), jazz on bones (Джаз на костях), bones or bone music (roentgenizdat). They are improvised gramophone recordings made from X-ray films during the 1950s and 1960s as a black market method of smuggling banned jazz music into the Soviet Union. Real medical X-rays, purchased or picked out of the trash from hospitals and clinics, were used to create the recordings. The X-rays were cut into 7-inch discs and the center hole was made by burning it with a cigarette.

    Listened to this song a million times before and never realized the significance of the line, so I thought I'd share it. Sort of casts the entire homecoming of Josie in a new "cold war" light.


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