Neil Peart ("Roll The Bones Radio Special"): "Roll The Bones' is the perfect title, because through all of the thoughts that I go through on the album, about all these nasty things that happen, and all these terrible things that could happen to you: a drunk in a stolen car could run over you on your way home tomorrow night, and you could have the best-laid plans for what you want to do, but there's still that element of chance that it could all go wrong. But the bottom line of that is, 'Take the chance, roll the bones.' If it's a random universe, and that's terrifying and it makes you neurotic and everything, never mind. You really have to just take the chance or else nothing's going to happen. The bad thing might not happen but the good thing won't happen either, so that's really the only choice you have."
Geddy Lee (October 1991): "I guess that track is something that was influenced by more of the spoken word stuff that is going on, although I can't sit here and say I'm a fan of rap. I like some rap things, but a lot of I don't like. I think there's some of it that's really well done - there are some clever people out there. But it's also not a new influence. People are talking about rap music like it's something new - it's not new at all. It's been around for over a decade, if not always in one form. And there are songs, like 'Territories,' where we have used a similar kind of thing, although it was never related to rap because it wasn't the music of the moment - so we have used spoken word sections before."
Peart (1991): "The song 'Roll the Bones' is full of any number of little decisions that I had to make about what I thought, and how best to express them and how to introduce the idea that yes we do have free will and yes we do have choices, and yes our choices do affect the way our fates turn out. But at the same time, there are always these wild cards that are going to come along, sometimes tragically, sometimes triumphantly. The motto comes down to 'Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst'."
Geddy Lee (October 1991): "This one is written more from Neil's point of view. The lyrics were written very much in concert with contemporary rap music: the way the words react against each other and the structures form more in sympathy with what's going on in a contemporary rap way. To a degree we are having fun with that. We couldn't make up our minds really if we wanted to be influenced by rap or satirize it, so I think that song kind of 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."
Neil Peart ("Roll The Bones Radio Special"): "Yeah, that started off as a lyrical experiment for me; I was hearing some of the better rap writers, among whom I would include like LL Cool J or Public Enemy, musicality apart, just as writers, it was really interesting. And it struck me that it must be a lot of fun to do that; all those internal rhymes and all that wordplay and everything. That's meat and potatoes for a lyricist; it's stuff you love to do and can seldom get away with being so cute in a rock song. So I thought, "Well, I'll give it a try," and I submitted actually I think the song "Roll The Bones" without that section to the other guys and got them to like it, and said, "Well, I have this other thing I've been working on, and see what you think." You know, not knowing how they'd respond, but I'd had the fun of doing it and I've been rejected before; my notebook's full of things that haven't made it too, so that was the situation there. And they got excited about the idea, but then how to treat it was the other question, and we did think of trying to get a real rapper in to do it, and we even experimented with female voices, and ultimately found that that treated version of Geddy's voice was the most satisfying as creating the persona that we wanted to get across, and was also the most satisfying to listen to. And with the female voice in it, it wasn't as nice texturally going by, where Geddy's voice treated like that became a nice low frequency sound, and you could listen to it just as a musical passage without having to key in on the lyrics or anything, just let the song go by you. And it was pleasant to the ear, so I think that was probably one of the big factors in choosing that. We'd even been in contact with people like Robby Robertson; we thought we'd like to try his voice on it and had contacted his office, and so on. John Cleese we thought of; we were going to do it as a joke version, get John Cleese in it: "Jack, relax." Get him to camp it up, but again from the musicality and longevity factors, that would have got tired quickly; that's the trouble with jokes." (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, Washington, for all above)
The "rap" parts are the electronically-enhanced voice of Geddy Lee. Rupert Hine
, who produced the track, explained: "After initially wanting a variety of 'famous voices' for that part (the final favourite of which was John Cleese) we finally decided that it should be less of a 'cameo role' and more 'self-contained.' Geddy asked me to do it, but after some experimentation we managed to effect his own voice to achieve a similar apparent depth."
This song took on new meaning for Neil Peart after two tragedies in 1997: his daughter died in a car accident and his common-law wife was diagnosed with cancer (she died a short time later). Peart questioned why this could happen, and in doing so, revisited the themes in this song, once again concluding that events take place "because stuff happens."