Dry Bones

  • songfacts ®
  • This traditional spiritual song has been used to teach basic anatomy to children, although its description of how the bones come together is not anatomically correct - the shoulder bone isn't really connected to the neck bone. The lyrics are based on Ezekiel 37:1-14, where the prophet visits the Valley of Dry Bones and causes them to become alive by God's command. The melody was written in the early 1900s by African-American author and songwriter James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938).
  • Possibly the best known version of this spiritual was recorded by American vocal group The Delta Rhythm Boys, who were popular for over fifty years in the 20th century. Other artists who have recorded the song include Fats Waller. The Four Lads, Mills Brothers Shirley Caesar, Rosemary Clooney and as "Dem Bones", The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
  • During The Simpsons fourth season episode, Homer's Triple Bypass, Dr. Nick Riviera is operating on Homer. Unsure of the procedure, he sings this song in the middle of the operation to help him work out what to do. The bungling surgeon gets the lyrics wrong and ends up singing "the red thing's connected to my wristwatch."
  • Robert Randolph & the Family Band recorded an updated version of Dry Bones on their 2010 album We Walk This Road.
  • The Delta Rhythm Boys version of this song appears in the 1988 movie Rain Man, which won the Oscar for Best Picture.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 2

  • Edward Pearce from Ashford, Kent, EnglandEisso, The version of Dry Bones in The Singing Detective was by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians.
  • Eisso from Groningen, NetherlandsWhat was the version used in 'The singing detective'? It was less smooth than this one and I loved it.
see more comments

Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star RidersSongwriter Interviews

Writing with Phil Lynott, Scott saw their ill-fated frontman move to a darker place in his life and lyrics.

George ClintonSongwriter Interviews

When you free your mind, your ass may follow, but you have to make sure someone else doesn't program it while it's wide open.

Bass Player Scott EdwardsSong Writing

Scott was Stevie Wonder's bass player before becoming a top session player. Hits he played on include "I Will Survive," "Being With You" and "Sara Smile."

Dave Alvin - "4th Of July"They're Playing My Song

When Dave recorded the first version of the song with his group the Blasters, producer Nick Lowe gave him some life-changing advice.

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"They're Playing My Song

"How much does it cost? I'll buy it?" Another songwriter told Jonathan to change these lyrics. Good thing he ignored this advice.

Jackie DeShannon - "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"They're Playing My Song

It wasn't her biggest hit as a songwriter (that would be "Bette Davis Eyes"), but "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" had a family connection for Jackie.