Maren Morris’ 2019 hit single “The Bones” holds personal meaning to each of the track’s songwriters. Written by longtime friends and frequent collaborators Morris, Laura Veltz and Jimmy Robbins, “The Bones” was conceived at a pivotal time in each of the songwriters’ lives.
“One of us was pregnant, one of us was getting married, one of us was looking for a house,” Veltz tells American Songwriter.
Veltz shares the story behind the song’s poignant lyrics and the evolution of “The Bones” with American Songwriter below.
The Song’s History and Meaning
Veltz was looking for a house with her husband around the time the song was written. It was the couple’s realtor that put the phrase “The Bones” at the top of her mind.
“The real estate agent, who was so sweet and a friend of ours, every time we would go into a house, she’d say, ‘Oh, this one has good bones. You know, this one doesn’t have good bones,’” Veltz recalls. “She just talked about it like a person. And every time I can hear humanity in a concept, that’s generally when I whip out my phone and write it down.”
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Veltz saved the idea for her next writing session with Morris and Robbins. The trio previously saw success with Morris’ first No. 1, “I Could Use a Love Song,” in 2018. Veltz cites Morris as a “fun” co-writer because “no matter how weird I get, she’s always like, ‘Yeah, let’s go. Let’s find out where we go with that.’ And sometimes we nail it sometimes we don’t. But she’s always up for the challenge.”
When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter
Yeah, the paint could peel, the glass could shatter
Let it break, ’cause you and I remain the same
When there ain’t a crack in the foundation
Baby, I know any storm we’re facing will
Blow right over while we stay put
The house don’t fall when the bones are good
Veltz credits each songwriter’s life change at the time as being a catalyst for the song.
“There was a definite energy in the room that made the song light up, because we were all facing our dragons, in our individual ways,” she notes. “I think that that’s part of what the potency of the song comes from – just a genuine resilience in each of us that maintain strength in a challenging situation.”
Call it dumb luck, but, baby, you and I
Can’t even mess it up although we both try
No, it don’t always go the way we planned it, but the
Wolves came and went and we’re still standing
Veltz says the song’s lyrics hold more meaning today than when the trio first penned the song. The lyrics in the song “zing me in different ways at different times,” she adds.
The wolves came and went, and we’re still standing, “really gets me,” she confesses.
“I love that line,” she says tearfully. “That song is such a song about resilience and being able to withstand something challenging. We’ve done that as a country. We’ve done that as a family. We’ve done that as a society. And women do that every day. Disenfranchised communities do that every day. It’s just a beautiful reminder that you can get through some shit. And every time I hear that song, I hear it in a different texture because it helps me feel brave.”
The relatable song struck a chord with listeners too, as “The Bones” peaked at No. 1 on both Billboard’s Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, where it stayed for 19 and two weeks, respectively. A crossover hit, “The Bones” also reached No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary and Adult Pop Songs charts as well as the top 15 on the publication’s Hot 100 chart.
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Irish singer/songwriter Hozier later joined Morris on a remix of the track in late 2019, further amplifying the song’s appeal. Soon after, “The Bones” became an award show favorite as Morris performed the song at the 2020 CMA Awards, where she picked up trophies for both Single and Song of the Year. “The Bones” also was nominated for Best Country Song at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards, where Morris teamed with John Mayer for a live collaboration on the track. Later that year she won ACM Song of the Year for “The Bones.”
“The Bones” also was named 2021 BMI Pop Song of the Year. Its success propelled Veltz to become the first female to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Songwriters chart, where she stayed for five consecutive weeks.
“In terms of the song itself, that song keeps going,” Veltz says. “Even to this day. I mean, it has been nearly three years since its [release]. It’s a special moment. It’s still going, it’s still serving my catalog. It’s still serving my family in a way that is mind-boggling that three minutes, written in about two-and-a-half hours with my best friends could result in something that’s a legacy song in my catalog and for my life.
“Jimmy and Maren and I are such close buddies, and just to be able to share something like that. We walked through it in 2020, when it was dominating, but no one could celebrate it. … The fact that it keeps going is really just insane. It’s one of those things a songwriter dreams of and it’s been a dream to me for sure, that song.”
(Photo: Harper Smith / Courtesy Sacks & Co.)