Dem Bones — also called Dry Bones and Dem Dry Bones — is a well-known spiritual song. The melody was composed by African-American author and songwriter James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938). Some sources also credit his brother, J Rosomond Johnson. First recorded by The Famous Myers Jubilee Singers in 1928. Both a long and a shortened version of the song are widely known. The lyrics are inspired by Ezekiel 37:1-14, where the Prophet visits the "Valley of Dry Bones" and prophesies that they will one day be resurrected at God's command, picturing the national resurrection of Israel.
The Delta Rhythm Boys (developed the song in recordings for Decca in 1941,1942 and 1947 to the version known today by increasing the pitch by a semi-tone with each bone connected znd decreasing for each bone disconnected)
Deep River Boys Featuring Harry Douglas with Pete Brown's Orchestra (Recorded in Oslo on August 23, 1956 and released on the 78 rpm record HMV AL 6019).
The Four Lads, used as an integral part of "Fall Out," the final episode of British television series The Prisoner (1967-68). It is performed on screen in one scene and heard on a car radio in another.
In the musical Li'l Abner, the political satire song "The Country is in The Very Best of Hands" contains a long passage which references this song, rewritten to be about politicians sitting around on their "thigh bones."
The song "Dry Bones" was also featured as the second track on the Rain Man movie soundtrack.
Schoolhouse Rock! has a version of "Dem Dry Bones", in order to teach children about the skeletal system.
In a second season episode of The Munsters, entitled "Will Success Spoil Herman Munster?", Herman Munster was playing with Eddie Munster's friend's portable tape recorder by singing and playing back his own version of the song, which includes a mention of Herman's creator.
The main chorus and a variation of the verses are featured in the song "Skeletons in the closet", by Kris McKay, used as the theme for the 7th Guest video game.
The song appears twice in Evil Ed, first when Ed gets rid of the body of his boss and over the closing credits.
In a fifth season episode of Married...with Children, Al Bundy is trying to recall the name of a song from his youth and to that end has the idea of naming "every song that was ever made until we get it." Al's first offer is "Mandy", Jefferson's is "Dem Bones".
In Bewitched ("Samantha's Power Failure"), Uncle Arthur changes into a dancing skeleton and starts singing "Dem Bones".
The Bone Song is sung by Guybrush's parents in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. The song is a variation of the popular spiritual song "Dem Bones", and works as a hint to solve a randomly generated puzzle later in the game. As a result the lyrics are different every time the game is played.
In Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 904, as a scene featuring the bones of a werewolf in a science lab plays, one of the characters dryly comments "We've come to the conclusion: dem bones, dem dry bones, sir".
In the Wacky Races short "Mish Mash Missouri Dash", Muttley sings a similar song about bolts while repairing the Mean Machine.
The song is sung in the final episode of the British television series The Prisoner.
In Kidsongs' "What I Want to Be", the doctors talk about the bones of the skeleton.
In King's Quest VI, Alexander plays a xylophone made entirely of bones to play Dem Bones. This causes the skeleton guards, and later a chorus line of skeletons, to dance. The purpose of this is to get one of the guards to dance so that a skeleton key can fall from the key ring attached to one of the guards' belt.
In Peanuts, Linus helps Lucy assemble a dinosaur model. He starts fitting bones together and soon breaks into a loud rendition of "Dem Bones", eventually singing nonsense lyrics ("Oh, the knee bone connects to the wrist bone"), all the while dancing joyously around with Snoopy.