Little Bones references


Reader Bill Macdonald contributed this:

"I remember an interview with Gord and "Little Bones" was the name of a cat in a book he was reading. At one point, he was eating chicken in the back of a cab. The driver remarked: "better eat that chicken slow, it's full of all them little bones." Gord said he liked the connection to the book he was reading and tied it to their experience of recording in New Orleans."

Reader Pash sent this along with a youtube link (click it while you still can!).


Just reading up on my favourite band of all time, and I found your site.... I really enjoy it! Thanks for making it.

I just wanted to note I was reading in your section about "Little Bones."

I also wanted to let you know that with regards to "Little Bones" I also heard Gord Downie in an interview say the song was about a cat in a book he was reading, and the experience he had in the back of a cab while eating chicken.

I also distinctly remember him at a concert in the 90's saying "this next song is about a cat... this is called little bones" (I remember I taped the Canada Day concert, and I bootlegged the concert onto cassette from my VCR!!).

Anyway... I looked it up and found it. It's the first song... at :40.


Little Bones. Canada Day '92

Matt McCutcheon notes that The Last of the Crazy People by Timothy Findley features a cat named "Little Bones." So, that's gotta be "the book" that is so often referenced in connection to these tales of Gord cabbing with chicken.

"...It gets so sticky down here, better butter your cue finger up"

Believed to be a reference to the heat in New Orleans, where in the late summer of 1990, Road Apples was recorded. Gord Downie later wrote in Coke Machine Glow that in "20-watt New Orleans, envelopes lick themselves."

"...The long days of Shockley are gone"

William Shockley was a brilliant scientist in the field of semiconductors, and an unmitigated bigot and racist on a level unseen since the 1940's. His death in 1989 brought renewed attention to his sad story and underlined how ignorance and hate can obscure even the loftiest of achievements.

Shockley won the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics for his role in the invention of the transistor. When he knew where his mind was, Shockley was a scientific genius and was one of Time magazines "Men of the Year 1961." Unfortunately in later life, his mind was nowhere to be found, Shockley lost it somewhere along the way.

He once ordered all of his staff members to undergo polygraph tests when he became suspicious that his workers were stealing his ideas. When one of the workers was injured in an accident at home, Shockley insisted that one of his other staffers must have been responsible and would have to be found and fired.

He also began, without any formal training or knowledge, to study and speak about a new form of the long dismissed pseudo-science, eugenics, which he called "dysgenics." He claimed that blacks were genetically inferior to whites and that all persons with I.Q.'s below 100 should be sterilized. In true comic-book super villain form, he lectured on the idea of a future super race of intelligent beings. He even established a "Nobel Sperm Bank" which he regularly donated to and was compared to Nazi gene-engineers by the Atlanta Constitution. Probably not how most Nobel laureates want to be remembered.

"...So is football Kennedy style."

The Kennedy family, America's most successful political dynasty pre-Bushies, sadly witnessed their clout and numbers decline by way of tragedy and scandal. Games of touch football on the White House lawn or at the Cape and memories of Camelot fell to assassination, conspiracy and catastrophe. Little Bones seems to impart the wisdom of someone who's been through it all. Someone who knows you have to read between the lines, be aware of the filter in the media, and take your time to make your contribution before history swallows you up. The Kennedy's sure fit the bill. 

Joseph Kennedy was a bootlegger turned high ranking politico, who after serving as U.S. ambassador to Britain, played a large part in his sons successful 1960 federal election victory.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the son of Joseph, was the 35th President of The United States. A vocal champion of civil rights, Kennedy was not able to steward much of his agenda through congress in 22 months as President before being assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

Robert Francis Kennedy, son of Joseph and brother to John, led a crusade against organized crime as U.S. attorney general. He was also among the first to publicly condemn the witch hunt tactics of Joseph McCarthy. RFK launched a successful investigation into corruption in the Teamsters union, and headed JFK's 1960 election campaign. While running for President in 1968, he was shot and killed in Los Angeles.

Edward Kennedy, son of Joseph, brother of John and Robert, was first elected to the Senate to fill the seat of brother John, after JFK won the presidency in 1960. A favoured candidate in the 1980 democratic race for presidential nominee, even though his opponent was the sitting president, Jimmy Carter. The details of a strange car accident in 1969, which killed his companion Mary Jo Kopechne and left Kennedy with a conviction for leaving the scene, soured his nomination.

The Kennedy's inspired a lot of people and gave birth to many ideas, but being the model for Mayor Quimby must be among the most enduring.

Joe must be proud.

Reader Ryan adds that he e-mailed asking about this reference in 1998. "Someone promptly wrote me back and said the lyrics were referencing famous photos of the Kennedy's playing football in the 1960's."

And how cool is this? From Hip Head Seth:

I was reading up on Little Bones today, and I think Football Kennedy-Style might have a reference to a game the Kennedy's have engaged in for generations, football on skis? Similar to NOIS, Gord's prophecy turned true in 1998 when Michael Kennedy was killed playing this dangerous game as he ran into a tree.

Kennedy football tragedy.

"...$2.50 for a high ball"


6.0oz Ginger Ale
1.5oz Rye/Whiskey


Fill glass with ice cubes. Add whiskey and fill with ginger ale. Stir gently. If you like, add a twist of lemon peel for a garnish.