Bare Bones

Album: Bare Bones (2009)
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Songfacts®:

  • Madeleine Peyroux co-wrote this song with the producer Larry Klein, who is the ex-husband and longtime collaborator of Joni Mitchell, and Steely Dan's Walter Becker.
  • The work of the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron was an influence on this song, which explores Peyroux's troubled relationship with her alcoholic father, who died in 2005. Chodron's books apply Buddhist teachings in everyday life and encourage readers to accept and embrace pain and suffering as part of the human condition. In her 1996 book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Chodron writes: "Can't we just return to the bare bones? Relaxing with the present, relaxing with the hopelessness, relaxing with death, not resisting the fact that things end, that things pass, that things have no lasting substance, that everything changes – that is the basic message." Peyroux explained to The Daily Telegraph April 9, 2009: "I was interested in the toughness of her writing. She says: instead of having a magnet on your refrigerator saying 'Every day in every way we're getting better and better' have something on your wall that says: 'abandon all hope'. Which I thought was quite brilliant." Peyroux added: "The phrase 'bare bones' evokes much more to me than a lack of material things. It's the skeleton of what's really going on. And I realize that's the lifestyle I've lived, that I've seen others live."

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