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Tom Paine's Bones

[Graham Moore]

Roy Bailey sang Tom Paine's Bones, accompanied by John Kirkpatrick on button accordion, in 2000 on his CD Coda. He commented in his liner notes:

Graham Moore manages to convey in a few words and a dramatic tune the strength of a man who, two hundred years after his death, manages to remain controversial.

Dick Gaughan sang Tom Paine's Bones in 2001 on his CD Outlaws and Dreamers. He wrote in his liner notes:

Thomas Paine (1736-1809) was one of the most significant figures of the 18th century. Took part in the American Revolution, writing a series of pamphlets, Crisis in America and Common Sense, which played a large part in that Revolution. He went on to write a forceful defence of the French Revolution, The Rights of Man, and was elected to the National Assembly. His Age of Reason caused outrage and he was widely ostracised. The whereabouts of his remains are unknown but there is a rumour that his ones were disinterred and brought back to England.

Mick Ryan & Pete Harris sang Tom Paine's Bones in 2006 on their WildGoose CD The Island of Apples. They commented:

A very fine song about the great English radical, author of The Rights of Man and Common Sense. He died in America, in whose revolution he had played a prominent part and to where he had fled from post-revolutionary France, where he had been considered too radical. Some years later, his bones were brought back to England in the keeping of William Cobbett. Cobbett’s maidservant, taking them for kitchen rubbish, threw them out. Paine remains an icon of the Left to this day.

The Shee sang Tom Paine's Bones in 2008 on their first CD A Different Season. This video shows them at Crawley Folk Festival 2010:


As I roved out one evening by a river of discontent
I bumped straight into old Tom Paine as running down the road he went.
He said, “I can't stop right now child, King George is after me.
He'd have a rope around my throat and hang me on the Liberty Tree.”

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
I will dance to Tom Paine's bones, dance to Tom Paine's bones,
Dance in the oldest boots I own to the rhythm of Tom Paine's bones.

I only talked about freedom And justice for everyone
But since the very first word I spoke I've been looking down the barrel of a gun.
And they say I preached revolution, let me say in my defence
That all I did wherever I went was to talk a lot of common sense.

Old Tom Paine, he ran so fast, he left me standing still.
And there I was, a piece of paper in my hand, standing at the top of the hill.
And it said, “This is the Age of Reason. These are the Rights of Man.
Kick off religion and monarchy,” it was written there in Tom Paine's plan.

Old Tom Paine, there he lies nobody laughs and nobody cries.
Where he's gone or how he fares nobody knows—and nobody cares.