In My Time of Dyin’

Commentary

Many writers have claimed that Dylan learned the song from a Josh White recording, although many other performers, including Blind Willie Johnson and Dylan favorite Charley Patton, also recorded it. Todd Harvey 1 says that he hears both Johnson and White’s styles in Dylan’s guitar playing. He also notes that the song pre-dates the twentieth century.

 

 

Given the dark subject matter, it’s not surprising that several hard rock groups have covered it, including The Animals, Led Zeppelin, and Metallica.

Robert Shelton 2 thinks In My Time of Dyin’ is the most compelling track on Dylan’s first album. I agree, it’s powerful. His plaintive singing and rough guitar-playing grabs the listener’s attention and never lets it go. It’s power is even more remarkable considering that he was only twenty when he sang this song of decay and death.

Dylan has never played this song live. Too bad.

A  nice version by Blind Willie Johnson.


Lyrics

Well, in my time of dying don’t want nobody to mourn
All I want for you to do is take my body home
Well, well, well, so I can die easy
Well, well, well
Well, well, well, so I can die easy
Jesus gonna make up, Jesus gonna make up
Jesus gonna make up my dying bed

Well, meet me Jesus, meet me, meet me
in the middle of the air
If these wings should fail to me
Lord, won’t you meet me with another pair
Well, well, well, so I can die easy
Well, well, well
Well, well, well, so I can die easy
Jesus gonna make up, Jesus gonna make up
Jesus gonna make up my dying bed

Lord, in my time of dying don’t want nobody to cry
All I want you to do is take me when I die
Well, well, well, so I can die easy
Well, well, well
Well, well, well, so I can die easy
Jesus gonna make up, Jesus gonna make up
Jesus gonna make up my dying bed

Notes:

  1. The Formative Bob Dylan.
  2. No Direction Home

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