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Old Bones Odyssey

The song

Song Stories

Album Liner Notes

In this series of Song Stories we’re taking you behind the scenes of each song.

We’re starting with Chapter 1 – Old Bones Odyssey and our second song on the album Old Bones Odyssey.

Coming soon: we’re creating a podcast that dives deeper into the stories and history behind our songs.


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Old Bones Odyssey



Old Bones Odyssey

The Song

“Old bones taking me back
Old worlds taking me back
Resting on the souls of long ago”
-Lyrics/Ellen Kaye

Ellen C Kaye – Lead Vocal
Ethan Fein – Guitar
Koa Ho – Electric bass
Zach Mullings – Drums
Jackie Presti – Backup Vocals
Soara-Joye Ross – Backup Vocals
© 2022 Ellen C Kaye and Ethan Fein. All rights reserved.

Old bones taking me back
Old worlds taking me back
Resting on the souls of long ago

Old dreams taking me back
Old loves taking me back
Carrying us on wings of days long past

Trees with leaves
for dreams
A dance that never ends
That only you can know

From the roots to the sky
Sylvan slippers, rings of time
In the gloaming of this world
Back where memories lie

I keep longing for

Old bones taking me back
Old worlds taking me back
Resting on the souls of long ago

New roads leading me home
New hearts leading me home
Setting sail for ancient lands unknown

Trees with leaves 
for dreams
A dance that never ends
That only you can know

From the roots to the sky
Sylvan slippers, rings of time
In the gloaming of this world
Back where memories lie

I’m just dreaming of

Old bones taking me back
Old worlds taking me back 
Resting on the souls of long ago 

New roads leading me home
New hearts leading me home
Setting sail for ancient lands unknown

Ellen C Kaye – Lyrics
Ethan Fein – Music 
Recorded/Mixed/Mastered by Bill Moss
Samurai Hotel Recording Studio – Queens, New York
Ellen C Kaye, Ethan Fein, Bill Moss, Alan Joseph–Producers
(c) 2023 A Repair With Gold Production LLC SM

The Story

Old Bones Odyssey

“…whose bones do we care about and whose bones do we abandon?”-Ellen Kaye

I created the title Old Bones Odyssey because my bones are old and I wanted to deal with my own age right out of the box and establish that this story is coming from old bones, my old bones. 

Annie Kalmanowitz
b. 1884 in Minsk, Russia d. 1970 buried in Queens, NY, America. Family lore says she was a teenage Bolshevik who escaped the Cossacks by fleeing to America in 1901 with a hidden bag of gold. Ellen's paternal grandmother.
George Ernest Burwell II
b.1897 Tarboro, North Carolina, USA. d. 1980 Columbus, North Carolina, America. Ellen’s maternal grandfather, served in WWI and WWII.
Alice Kalmanowitz Peerce
b. 1907 New York City. d. 1994 America. Managed her husband Jan Peerce’s career brilliantly. Ellen’s paternal aunt.
Sidney Kalmanowitz
b.1914.d.1967. Ellen's father.
Faith Burwell Kaye
b.1932. d. 2020. Ellen's mother.
Kimson J. Tsang
b.1958 Long Isand, New York. New Port Ritchie, Florida d.2004.
Faith Courtney Burwell Sr.
b. 1902, Lenoir, North Carolina. d.1985 Spartanburg, South Carolina. Ellen’s maternal grandmother.
Cruz Alejandrina Defanti
Cruz Defanti emigrated from Chile to New York City. She raised Ellen from six months to seven years old.
Lloyd Williams
d.1932 New Orleans, Louisiana. d. 2020 New York City. Fashion designer whose clothes were featured in Lord & Taylor, Macy’s and the major department stores of the day. Ellen’s brother-in-law.
Jacob Kalmanowitz
b. 1884 Russia. Emigrated to America 1899. d.1949 NYC. He was a partner in two restaurants in Manhattan (Gottlieb’s) before the crash of 1929. Ellen’s paternal grandfather.
Thomas Willett
b. 1604 d. 1674 First and third Mayor of New York City. Ellen’s maternal ancestor.
Lilla Pugh Bell Burwell
b.1869 Williamston, North Carolina. d.1940 Charlotte, North Carolina. She was an artist and played the piano. Ellen’s great grandmother. on the Bell-Burwell line.
John Tsang
b.(possibly)Canton, China. d.Long Island, New York. Toiled in the restaurant industry to support his family. Married Iris Seay, making an interethnic marriage in the 1940's-1960s. Father of Ellen’s husband, Kim Tsang.
Jan & Alice Peerce
Jan & Alice Peerce Married 1930. Ellen’s paternal aunt and uncle.
Isaak Chertok-Chertoff
Isaak was born in Russia, emigrated via Tokyo to Istanbul then to Israel until the beginning of WWII and finally to New York City. Ellen’s paternal cousin.
John A. Tuttle
Sgt, Co. F, 26 NCT (The Hibriten Guards). b. 1844 Caldwell County, North Carolina d. 1863 at Bristoe Station, Virginia, America.
Iris Seay Tsang
Mystery - America, Mother of Ellen’s husband, Kim Tsang.
Isaac Chertok
He was a Russian intellectual, Japanese scholar, an engineer who helped design the Trans-Siberian Railway, diplomat, artist, taught Russian at the US Naval College during WWII and was a translator of Chekhov stories. After designing the Soviet Embassy in Tokyo he fled a Stalin purge, having been warned secretly by a visiting Soviet official not to leave the ship he had just boarded, thus leaving his young Japanese love and life in Japan forever and beginning his circuitous emigration to America. Ellen’s paternal cousin.
Alice Emily Courtney
b. in 1899 in Lenoir, North Carolina. d. 1967 She was a well respected music teacher in Lenoir, North Carolina, America. Ellen’s maternal aunt.
Susan Peerce
!961. Osborne, 57th Street, New York City.
Buster - George Ernest Burwell III
b.1925, Spartanburg, South Carolina, d. 1996. Served in US Navy during WWII. Ellen’s uncle on the Burwell line.
Jan Peerce Family - The Perlmuths
Circa 1905. Jan Peerce with his father Levi, mother Henya and brother Mot’l, shortly after his parents and brother emigrated to the United States from Horodetz, Poland (now Belarus). Jan was Ellen’s paternal uncle. Photo taken Lower East Side, New York City.
Mystery Young Woman
Isaac Chertok painted this portrait of a young woman in Tokyo in the 1930's, we believe, a portrait of the young love he was forced to leave behind when he fled Tokyo to escape from a Stalin purge.
Marinus Willett
b. 1740 Jamaica, Queens, New York, d. 1830 New York City. Buried in Trinity Church, New York City. Revolutionary Soldier - British America. New York Militia. Continental Army. 1st, 3rd and 5th New York Regiment. 48th Mayor of New York City, America. Ellen’s maternal ancestor.
Maye Kalmanowitz Oldin
Circa 1960. Ellen's paternal aunt.
Alice Earnhardt Courtney
b.1859 Davidson, North Carolina. d. 1930 Lenoir, North Carolina. Ellen’s maternal great grandmother.
Mystery Couple
Burwell line. Late 1800’s. North Carolina.
Gertrude Blanche Courtney Blackwell
b.1842 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. d.1914 Tarboro, North Carolina. He was a silversmith, engraver and jeweler. Ellen’s second great-grandfather on the Bell-Burwell line.
James Henry Bell
b.1842 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, America d.1914 Tarboro, North Carolina, America. He was a silversmith, engraver and jeweler. Ellen’s second great-grandfather on the Bell-Burwell line.
Andrew Willet
b.1562 d. December 4th, 1621. He was an English clergyman and controversialist. A prolific writer, he is known for his anti-papal works. His views were Calvinist, conforming and non-separatist, and he appeared as a witness against Edward Dering before the Star-chamber.-Wiki Ellen’s maternal ancestor.
Alice Kalmanowitz Peerce
b.1908.d. 1994. Ellen's aunt.
Andrew Hull Courtney & Mary Elizabeth Courtney
Andrew: b.1837 and d.1909 Caldwell County, North Carolina. Married in 1860. Andrew fought for the Confederacy and was wounded at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Before his capture by Union soldiers his leg was amputated. Andrew was known to the family as “Uncle Dan”. Ellen’s maternal ancestors.
Annie Kalmanowitz, Alice K. Peerce, Maye K. Oldin
Circa 1930’s. Possibly Florida. Ellen’s paternal grandmother and aunts.
The Courtney Girls
Circa early 1900’s. Faith Courtney, Courtney Jones, Alice Courtney in Lenoir, North Carolina. Ellen’s maternal grandmother, great aunt and cousin.
Annie & Jake Kalmanowitz
Believed to be their wedding photo taken on the Lower East Side, New York City. Married 1906. Ellen’s paternal grandparents.
Josephine Walsh Bell & Clinton Ewell
Josephine b.1844 d.1925 Tarboro, North Carolina. Clinton b.1878 d.1900 Tarboro, North Carolina. He died from a disease contracted during the Spanish American War. Ellen’s maternal second great-grandmother and her son.
Lyro Defanti
Lyro was married to Cruz Alejandrina Defanti.
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I think bones are such a great metaphor. And more than that, they actually are the way that we learn about the past in the most straightforward manner. So whether it’s that we’re finding the bones of people from the past in graveyards or we’re learning about who is actually in Potter’s field on Hart Island or what Neanderthals were doing or early prototypes of homo sapiens, all of theses bones are a very direct path to finding wisdom. That’s how I see it. 
Bones also have the skull and crossbones insignias, the pirate flag, the poison sign. Where all the secrets lurk. The things that no one wants to see. The bones that no one can identify. Which is definitely a recurring theme in my own life, in history in general and definitely in American history in particular. 
You know, whose bones do we care about and whose bones do we abandon? That’s definitely very much on my mind. So I think that’s a big part of it.
And there’s also humor in it to me. Just the whole idea of Old Bones Odyssey, it sounds like a jiggling skeleton doing a dance or like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Something about it makes me smile. 

An Interview with Ellen

Old Bones Odyssey

Full Transcript Of Interview with Ellen Below

“…the whole tree science thing had caught my imagination…”-Ellen Kaye

Mostly to express the core principle of the project, which is about Old Bones, literally and figuratively. Taking us back, old worlds taking us back, and we’re resting on the souls of long ago. That is what Old Bones, the project is all about. And hopefully our song brings you into our story and also makes you think about your own story, about your old, old bones and about the people you come from and the worlds that we all come from and the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s kind of what we’re trying to do.ᅠ

Originally, I really didn’t think about how people would feel when I was writing it. I just was thinking about the story and just bringing people in. But now that we’ve made the song, I’m hoping that people feel elated and somewhat joyful. And yes, definitely, really a tad nostalgic. But I think that it’s a song that has all kinds of feelings running through it, and they’re not all necessarily identifiable. But the end feeling of it is that from the old and from the ancient past, we take a voyage into a new place that we’ve never been before. So it has that feeling of discovery. At least that’s what we’re hoping the song conveys.ᅠ

All these things are so personal for me, I love  Trees with leaves for dreams, a dance that never ends that only you can know, from the roots to the sky sylvan slippers rings of time, in the gloaming of this world, back where memories lie.” I can’t say it or sing it without feeling something intensely about the passing of time and mortality and the fragile quality of life. That’s what those words mean to me.

Well, I don’t know if it was happening right then, it’s kind of all a blur. But the whole tree science thing had caught my imagination, and I was reading constantly about something about the fibers of the mushrooms underneath the ground that connects the trees to each other, and they’re all talking to each other.  And I thought it was such a great metaphor for the whole project that people are like trees and worlds and cities and the ancient past, and then history and stories are the things underground that are connecting us all.
It sounds pretty psychedelic, but I think definitely the new tree science was a huge piece of what I was thinking as I went to write Old Bones and also just for the whole project. Trees are one of the main images for obvious reasons, the family tree, the tree of humanity goes on and on, but I also just mean living trees and all the things that they make us think about here on Earth. 

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Ellen C Kaye

Singer/songwriter, producer, podcast maker, mom, born and bred in NYC. Night Club singer at heart.