In 1961, Bob Dylan recorded “Fixin’ to Die” for his debut album, released the following year. The album liner notes indicate that it “was learned from an old recording by Bukka White”. However, Dylan’s arrangement uses a slightly different melody line and some new lyrics.
CBS is proud to introduce a major new figure in American folk music—Bob Dylan.
Excitement has been running high since the young man with a guitar ambled into a
recording studio for two sessions in November, 1961. For at only 20, Dylan is the most unusual
new talent in American folk music.
His talent takes many forms. He is one of the most compelling white blues singers ever
recorded. He is a songwriter of exceptional facility and cleverness. He is an uncommonly
skillful guitar player and harmonica player.
~Stacey Williams (“Bob Dylan” LP. liner notes – March 1962)
Dylan comes across as obsessed with the romance of dying, but the speed, energy and attack
in his guitar, harmonica and voice show how fresh and excellently ‘unprofessional’ he was.
Yet what comes through from the album as a whole is a remarkable skill and more than a hint
of a highly distinctive vision.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
March 19, 1962
November 20 and 22, 1961,Columbia Recording Studio, New York City, New York, United States
John H. Hammond
Bob Dylan is the debut album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in March 1962 by Columbia Records. Produced by Columbia’s legendary talent scout John H. Hammond, who signed Dylan to the label, the album features folk standards, plus two original compositions, “Talkin’ New York” and “Song to Woody”.
The Best Songs: Fixin’ To Die Blues by Bukka White aka Booker T Washington
“Fixin’ to Die” is song by American blues musician Bukka White. It is performed in the Delta blues style with White’s vocal and guitar accompanied by washboard rhythm. White recorded it in Chicago on May 8, 1940, for record producer Lester Melrose. The song was written just days before, along with eleven others, at Melrose’s urging.
White was resuming his recording career, which had been interrupted by his incarceration for two and one-half years at the infamous Parchman Farm prison in Mississippi. While there, White witnessed the death of a friend and “got to wondering how a man feels when he dies”. His lyrics reflect his thoughts about his children and wife:
I’m looking funny in my eyes, an’ I b’lieve I’m fixin’ to die (2×) I know I was born to die, but I hate to leave my children cryin’ … So many nights at the fireside, how my children’s mother would cry (2×) ‘Cause I ain’t told their mother I had to say good-bye