Albie's note: I almost made this part of my HYMN TIME series but decided it fit the Jovial Jukebox theme a little better-- even if it is a recording of an old folk spiritual. Sleepy LaBeef is a legendary 6-foot-7 Rockabilly singer from Smackover, Arkansas who has been nick-named "the human jukebox" for his amazing ability to perform requested songs by memory. His "basso profundo" voice is as legendary in some circles as that of the late Johnny Cash's-- even if it is nowhere near as famous. [Interesting sidenote: Sleepy is often rumored to have been fellow "Arkansawyer" Charles Portis' real life model for the LaBeouf character in the classic novel TRUE GRIT!]
Here, Sleepy sings an old sermon-song based on the "dry bones" vision in Ezekiel 37. While I do think the prophecy here is primarly about the re-birth of national Israel, I still like songs and sermons that use it to preach spiritual revival. Both are perfectly acceptable interpretations, whether the hyper-dispensational fellas like it or not. [If you have no idea what i mean by that, great! You're better off!]
The truth is, that Old Book often says many different things within the same passage... The Bible is just amazing!
About this song.... I gotta warn ya... if you pay attention to the lyrics it gets a little sobering!
by Sleepy LaBeef
1. It was down on the boneyard circuit, there was no way to shirk it
A preacher named Ezekiel was sent
He landed at the station and saw the situation
A valley full of bones was his audience
By way of a suggestion the Lord asked him a question
"Can these dry bones be raised up from the dead?"
The Spirit was beseeching, so Ezekiel went to preaching
And from the pulpit this is what he said.
Oh! You old dry bones hear the word of the Lord2. The bones begin to rattle, like muskets in a battle
Stand up on your feet and His goodness repeat
Lay aside your dry profession, Get a Holy Ghost possession
You've been bleaching in the valley long enough
When Ezekiel took his text and started in
It was plain it didn't matter, in spite of all the clatter
Ezekiel kept right on a-clubbing sin
The bones all came together, in spite of stormy weather
To hear the message from the Lord's right hand
It made them sit and wonder to hear this voice of thunder
And from the pulpit issued this command
3. The rattle was terrific; the message was specific
Repent! The preacher roared in thunder tones.
There'll be no absolution 'til you make restitution
The muscle then appeared upon the bones
You'll have no good beginning until you quit your sinning
The muscle soon was covered o'er with skin
His breathless congregation was filled with consternation
As Ezekiel's voice rose and roared again.
4. They sat and warmed the benches while Ezekiel rushed the trenches
And preached the word with all his might and main
It caused a big commotion when he with deep emotion
Said "breath of God come breathe upon these slain."
The wind was soon a-blowing, the bones were soon a-going
Around the place as fast as they could run
While Ezekiel's still addressing they got a second blessing
And now the real excitement had begun.
May 14, 1948 newspaper: