Without a doubt, Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan are two of the greatest musical influences in the history of the 20th century, and although the comparisons could be very distant because they belong to two totally different styles, the truth is that Bob Dylan had a great influence on one of the band’s theme.
To say that Dylan was a huge influence on Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham, is perhaps stretching the league too much, however, there is a classic Led Zeppelin song that might not exist if it weren’t for him.
Little is known of the antipathy between Dylan and Led Zeppelin, which began when the band’s manager Peter Grant attempted to introduce himself with Dylan in Los Angeles in 1974, “Hello Bob. I’m Peter Grant, I manage Led Zeppelin.” to which Dylan gave a brutal response, “Do I come to you with my problems?”
However, far from taking Bob’s words as an insult, Led Zeppelin decided to pay tribute to him on their next album with the song, ‘In My Time Of Dying’, which is included on the 1975 album ‘Physical Graffiti’.
The song picks up the tone of an old blues originally called ‘Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed’, whose origin can be traced back to 1928. After staying in the dark for decades, it was until the Bob Dylan version that the song began to gain recognition, now under the name, ‘In My Time Of Dyin’.
Dylan never spoke out on the reimagined version of Led Zeppelin, however, Robert Plant never hid his love for Dylan by revealing, “something happened when Dylan arrived,” Plant told the Guardian in 2007. “I had to grapple with what he was talking about. His music referenced Woody Guthrie, Richard and Mimi Farina, Reverend Gary Davis, Dave Van Ronk, and all these great American artists I knew nothing about.”
“He was absorbing the details of America and bringing it out without any reservation at all, and ignited a social conscience that is spectacular.” For those living in Britain and watching Dylan from afar, he seemed like a messiah of sorts. “In these Anglo-Saxon lands we could only gawp because we didn’t know about the conditions he was singing about. Dylan was the first one to say, ‘Hello, reality.’ I knew that I had to get rid of the winkle-pickers and get the sandals on quick.”