The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Needed Time

Needed Time

#318 / Feb. 23 Podcast

No transcript...

Ah, memories. It was an autumn night 52 years ago, and Pamela and Charlie Bowen went to a theater in downtown Huntington is see the new Cicely Tyson/Paul Winfield movie called Sounder.

What a wonderful film, and Charlie especially loved the bluesy musical score performed by Taj Mahal, who also played the character “Ike” on screen.

Charlie loved it so much, in fact, that he started haunting Davidson Records Store down the street, just waiting to buy the soundtrack LP and learn some of the tunes.

Besides Taj Mahal’s excellent work, the real star of the soundtrack is legendary bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins doing the opening track: a gospel tune called “Needed Time.”

As reported in an earlier Flood Watch article, it was around this time that The Flood was just getting started. As soon as Charlie shared “Needed Time” with the band’s fellow founder Dave Peyton, the song quickly got played regularly at their fledgling jam sessions, especially after Roger Samples came along a short time later to sing the harmonies and add his tasty guitar solos.

About the Song

“Needed Time” — often called “Jesus Will You (or sometimes Won’t You) Come by Here” — seems to have first been collected by song catcher Robert W. Gordon in the 1920s (and later by John Lomax in 1937).

The Robert Gordon connection is particularly significant. That’s because Gordon’s main claim to fame among folkies today is that in 1926 he also collected an early version of “Kumbaya.” This African-American spiritual’s origin is unclear, but it is known to be sung in the Gullah culture of the islands off South Carolina and Georgia with ties to enslaved Central Africans. In the 1960s folk music revival, “Kumbaya” was regularly heard at coffeehouses across America (and later at any field trip that involved a campfire….)

Kim ba ya, which translates to “come by here,” might well have inspired “Needed Time,” which Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded in the early 1950s (and re-recording it many times later). It’s Hopkins’ original RPM track that is used in the opening moments of Sounder.

“I play it from my heart and soul,“ Hopkins once said. “The blues is something that the people can’t get rid of. And if you ever have the blues, remember what I tell you. You’re gonna hear this in your heart… slowly rough and delicately brutal, like stones being rattled in a can of ribbon cane syrup.”

Today the song has a particular strong connection with folksinger/blues artist Eric Bibb who performs at practically every concert. In fact, in the late 1990s, he even named his band “Needed Time” in recognition of the tune.

More recently, it came back to the fore when renowned country artist Hank Williams Jr. recorded “Jesus Won’t You Come By Here” for his 2022 Rich White Honky Blues album.

“It’s just perfect for an old southern hymnal,” Williams commented, “a reminder to slow down and enjoy ourselves.”

Our Take on the Tune

The Flood has done the song for a very long time, and it’s always different, depending on who is in the room.

In this rendition from a rehearsal a few weeks ago, our man Danny Cox makes it memorable with his signature guitar stylings.

The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Each week The 1937 Flood, West Virginia's most eclectic string band, offers a free tune from a recent rehearsal, show or jam session. Music styles range from blues and jazz to folk, hokum, ballad and old-time. All the podcasts, dating back to 2008, are archived on our website; you and use the archive for free at: