Dem Bones

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"Dem Bones"
Written byJames Weldon Johnson
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"Dem Bones"
Written byJames Weldon Johnson
For the song by Alice in Chains, see Them Bones.

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.[1] 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"[2] and prophesies that they will one day be resurrected at God's command, picturing the national resurrection of Israel.

The song[edit]

The chorus and verses are noted for many variations among performers, but fall into the following style. The second verse reverses the first in a pattern similar to:

The neck bone (dis)connected from the head bone
… etc…


Over the years, the song has been played and recorded by many artists, including:

Comedic versions and parodies[edit]

References in popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Locust St". Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Dry Bones, Valley of," in Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, David L. Jeffery, editor. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, November 1, 1992, pages 216-217, ISBN 0-8028-3634-8
  3. ^ Entry for Decca 23948 on (including image of disc label). Accessed 13 March 2012.
  4. ^ "Bob Barner" Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2005. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2005. retrieved 5 December 2005
  5. ^ "Them Not-So-Dry-Bones". 
  6. ^ Vinciguerra, Thomas (October 19, 2008). "A Spy Trapped in a Nightmare of Psychedelia". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Peanuts Comic Strip, June 05, 1960". Retrieved January 17, 2014.