The Story Behind The “Dry Bones” Song

delta r boysAlthough it’s often mistaken for a folksong, this popular spiritual that often pops up around Halloween was written by African-American author and composer, James Weldon Johnson.   The song has no exact date of composition, however, it was first recorded by the Famous Myers Jubilee Singers in 1928 and some versions of this song also give writing credit the author’s brother, J. Rosomond Johnson.  Since that time, it has been rerecorded and made popular by a wildly diverse group of musicians and performers including Rosemary Clooney, Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Mills Brothers, The Kingsmen and even Phish.

Although the song has spooky overtones, the lyrics are taken from the Biblical Book of Ezekial (Ezekial 37:1-14) where the Prophet Ezekial visits the Valley of Dry Bones and prophesies that the dead will one day rise again at the command of the Lord.  Although dry bones cd delta r boysthere are quite a few variations of the song, the format is pretty much the same.  The song starts with an introductory verse, tells the sequence of bones (from the toe upward) and almost always ends the command: “Now hear the word of the Lord.”

You can read one version of the lyrics and check a video of the Delta Rhythm Boys below.  The Delta Rhythm Boys were a very popular musical group that made this song well-known through their performances on radio, television and on Broadway.

LYRICS

•    Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,
•    Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,
•    Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
•    Now hear the word of the Lord.

•    Toe bone connected to the foot bone
•    Foot bone connected to the heel bone
•    Heel bone connected to the ankle bone
•    Ankle bone connected to the shin bone
•    Shin bone connected to the knee bone
•    Knee bone connected to the thigh bone
•    Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
•    Hip bone connected to the back bone
•    Back bone connected to the shoulder bone
•    Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone
•    Neck bone connected to the head bone
•    Now hear the word of the Lord.

•    Chorus

•    Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
•    Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
•    Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around.
•    Now hear the word of the Lord.

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A Song To Remember Fallen Leaders – “Abraham, Martin and John”

abraham recordPopular music in the USA in the 1960’s spoke out on many topics.

Although this balled (written in 1968 by Dick Holler and first recorded by Dion) “spoke out quietly”, it tied together a string of assassinated leaders that were loved, admired and changed the course of American politics.

On MLK Day 2015, we thought we’d share the lyrics and video with you. Mentioned in the song by name are Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. The video below is a moving version of the song, remade by Marvin Gaye.

“Abraham, Martin and John”

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
You know, I just looked around and he’s gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he’s gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked ’round and he’s gone.

Didn’t you love the things that they stood for?
Didn’t they try to find some good for you and me?
And we’ll be free
Some day soon, and it’s a-gonna be one day…

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John.

In Memory of A Pioneer of Jazz Violin, John Blake Jr.

john blake jr.Sadly, this week many of us heard of the passing of a truly great musician – jazz violin legend, John Blake Jr. Originally from South Philadelphia, I had the chance to work with John during the times of his first jazz album on the Gramavision label and can attest to the fact that he was that magical combination of talented artist, creative genius, exceptional teacher and genuinely good person.

Although John started his career as a sideman with major acts including Grover Washington Jr. and McCoy Tyner, his work soon put him on the musical map as a composer, arranger, performer and educator of the highest caliber. Repeated winner of Down Beat Critic’s and Reader’s Polls, few other artists could boast the type of praise that John received from fans, colleagues and educational institutions large and small, both inside the USA and around the world. If you have not yet had the chance to know this artist, visit his website to read about his impressive legacy or discover a video about his life and work.

The homepage of his artist webpage also bears this short and sad notice. Contact information is given here if you were a friend, colleague or admirer of his music, as so many were:

We regret to inform you of the Transition of our Beloved Husband, Father, Brother, Grandfather, Master Fiddler, Mentor and Friend to thousands of national and international admirers. The impact of his legacy is being reflected daily in the many communications of love we are receiving from you. THANK YOU!

Should you wish to contact the family please send an email to: Griotwoman@aol.com.

John Blake Jr., – Artist Website

http://www.johnblakejr.com/home.php

Videos

Click on links to the right of the screen for any of the four videos:  

John Blake, The Man, The Legend

A Celebration of Fiddle Music

A Note Of Hope Documentary Trailer

Performance at Berklee College of Music

http://www.johnblakejr.com/home.php