In My Time of Dyin’

Commentary

Many writers have suggested that Dylan learned this song from a Josh White recording. Could be, although many other performers, including Blind Willie Johnson and Dylan favorite Charley Patton, also recorded it. Todd Harvey, author of The Formative Bob Dylan, hears both Johnson and White’s styles in Dylan’s guitar playing.

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, the author of No Direction Home, argues that 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 grab the listener’s attention and never let it go. Its 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

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