Wikipedia: “In My Time of Dying” (also called “Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed” or a variation thereof) is a traditional gospel music song that has been recorded by numerous musicians. The title line, closing each stanza of the song, refers to a deathbed and was inspired by a passage in the Bible from Psalms 41:3 “The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing, thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.””
Gospel blues singer Blind Willie Johnson’s version, called “Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed,” is the first one I could find. But the lyrics to his version are almost completely different than what modern artists have covered. Near as I can tell, everybody’s been going back to the version by blues man Josh White.
As likely as not, it is Bob Dylan’s version that many contemporary artists are more familiar with. Dylan would have known of White as he was a member (with Woody Guthrie) of a folk and social protest group called The Almanac Singers who were active in the early 1940’s. Dylan recorded it on his eponymous debut album from 1962:
In the time of dyin’
I don’t want nobody to moan
All I want my friends to do
Come and fold my dyin’ arms
Well, well, well
So I can die easy
Jesus gonna make up my dyin’ bed
Samantha Fish is a blues singer/songwriter/guitarist from Kansas City, Missouri. She won Best New Artist Debut, Blues Music Awards in Memphis in 2012.
Stevie Ray Vaughan was a big influence on her (and pretty much everybody who has played blues since.) Called on stage to play with Buddy Guy, he said, “When this kind of shit happens, I’ll play all night!” She released a new album last month called Chills & Fever which I’m itching to listen to.
Here’s her version of “Dying Bed,” funky-looking guitar and all:
If by now you’re saying to yourself, Wait a minute. Where else have I heard this song? Didn’t Zep do it? Yes, indeedy. They recorded it originally for their 1975 album, Physical Graffiti.
They took this old blues song, jacked it up, ran it through the old Zep-o-meter 3000 and came out with their own trademark brand of crunch n’ roll. Unfortunately as is their custom, when they re-arrange a song they put their names on it as if they wrote it.
This version is in open G tuning if you’re playing along at home. Right about 3:45 it starts to kick ass like a motherfucker: