Knockin' on Heaven's Door
|"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"|
|Single by Bob Dylan|
|from the album Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid|
|Released||July 13, 1973|
|Genre||Folk rock, gospel|
|Bob Dylan singles chronology|
- 1 Story line and song structure
- 2 Cover versions
- 3 Sampled version
- 4 Soundtrack appearances
- 5 Pop culture
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Story line and song structure
The song describes the collapse of a deputy sheriff, dying from a bullet wound; he tells his wife "Mama, take this badge off of me; I can't use it anymore." The song consists of four chords in the key of G major: G, D, Am7, and C. The basic pattern throughout the song is G-D-Am7-Am7 and then G-D-C-C, and this is repeated. Over the years, Dylan has changed the lyrics, as have others who have performed this song.
Larry Norman released his cover on December 31, 2004 as the third track of his Sessions album. With the exception of the chorus line, the song has completely original lyrics. Per Norman's recording label (Solid Rock), "Larry made a CD called Sessions solely for folks who contribute to Compassion [International] through us. It isn’t for sale anywhere, and we make no profit from it. The CD includes previously unreleased sessions by Larry, Randy Stonehill, Tom Howard, Daniel Amos & other Solid Rock artists".
Arthur Louis recorded a version of the song in a reggae crossover style. Louis's arrangement was released as a single in July 1975, a week before Eric Clapton released his own interpretation of Louis's arrangement, of the same song.
Eric Clapton recorded a reggae influenced version of the song produced by Albhy Galuten in August 1975 and released it as a single later that year, almost two years after Dylan's original track was released, using Arthur Louis's arrangement. Clapton's single featured "Someone Like You" as the B-side, previously recorded with Louis. Live recordings of this arrangement of the song appear on Clapton's album Crossroads 2: Live in the Seventies (1996), which features a performance recorded in London in April 1977. The song was also included on his album Time Pieces: The Best of Eric Clapton (1982) and resurrected for the Journeyman and One More Car, One More Rider world tours in 1990 and 2003.
The Grateful Dead
An acoustic performance was played by The Grateful Dead Live at Rambler Room, Loyola College on November 17, 1978. The song was performed by Bob Dylan & The Grateful Dead, during a joint tour in July 1987. Between August 1987 and July 1994 the Grateful Dead often closed their shows with a performance of this song. On July 7, 1989, the Dead used the song as an encore at John F. Kennedy Stadium. It was not known at the time, but it was to be the swansong for the stadium, which was condemned 6 days later.
Guns N' Roses
|"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"|
|Single by Guns N' Roses|
|from the album Use Your Illusion II|
|A-side||"Knockin' On Heavens Door" (LP version)|
|B-side||"Knockin' On Heavens Door" (Live)|
|Format||CD single, 7", 12"|
|Genre||Hard rock, blues rock|
|Producer(s)||Mike Clink, Guns N' Roses|
|Guns N' Roses singles chronology|
In 1987, Guns N' Roses started including the song in their live sets. A live version of the track was initially released on the maxi-single of Welcome to the Jungle the same year. They recorded a studio version in 1990 for the Days of Thunder Soundtrack, which was later slightly modified for the 1991 album Use Your Illusion II (basically discarding the responses in the second verse). Released as the fourth single from the album, it reached #2 on the UK Singles Chart as well as #12 in Australia and #1 in Ireland. Their performance of the song at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992 was used as the B-side for the single release and was also included on their Live Era: '87–'93 album, released in 1999.
- Axl Rose - lead vocals
- Slash - lead guitar
- Izzy Stradlin - rhythm guitar
- Duff McKagan - bass
- Steven Adler - drums (Days Of Thunder Soundtrack version)
- Matt Sorum - drums (Use Your Illusion II version)
- Dizzy Reed - piano
- Additional personnel
In 1996 and with the consent of Bob Dylan, Scottish musician Ted Christopher wrote a new verse for "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" in memory of the schoolchildren and teacher killed in the Dunblane massacre. This has been, according to some sources, one of the few times Dylan has officially authorized anybody to add or change the lyrics to one of his songs. This version of the song, including children from the village singing the chorus with guitarist and producer of Dylan's album Infidels (1983), Mark Knopfler, was released on December 9 in the UK and reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart. The proceeds went to charities for children.
The song was featured on the compilation album Hits 97, where all royalties from the song were given to three separate charities.
In 2003, Warren Zevon released a version of the song on his album The Wind (2003), shortly before his death from cancer in September of that year. An all-star cast sang it as part of a tribute to Zevon on the 2004 Grammy Awards broadcast.
Avril Lavigne performed the song on radio sponsored multi-artist appearances, which took place on January 23, 2003 and ended on June 4, 2003. A music video was made with her performance. Later on she included the song during her Try To Shut Me Up Tour. She first released her cover version on the bonus CD of her My World video release in 2003, as one of the B-Sides from her single "Nobody's Home" and afterwards as a Japanese bonus track for her 2011 album Goodbye Lullaby.
In August 2010, at U2's first performance in Russia, Bono invited rocker Yuri Shevchuk to join him on the stage for a spontaneous duet. During the performance Shevchuk performed a Russian version of the first part of the song. U2 and Shevchuk were helping draw attention to the Khimki Forest issue, over which many environmental activists and journalists have been arrested, injured, and killed. The activists are trying to stop the construction of a roadway through a protected old-growth forest by allegedly corrupt politicians.
Randy Crawford recorded a version of this song in 1989, featuring Eric Clapton and David Sanborn. Wyclef Jean recorded a version of the song, which was used in the documentary Ghosts of Cité Soleil (2004), by director Asger Leth. In 2007, Babyface released his eleventh album Playlist which contained a cover of this song. In 2007 Antony and the Johnsons released a rendition of this song that was included on the Bob Dylan cover album I'm Not There, which served as the soundtrack for the film of the same name.
There have been many artists who haven't done a cover version in an album but performed the song live. Particularly popular covers include Phil Collins, Bruce Springsteen, and Jon Bon Jovi. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is titled after the song and features a character, Vincent, who is based on Bob Dylan.
- "DONATIONS - The Solid Rock Shop". Solid Rock. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
- Billboard, Top Single Picks Vol:87, No:32. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1975-09-08. p. 70.
- Schumacher, Michael. Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton. Hyperion Press. p. 373.
- Billboard, Top Single Picks Vol:87, No:33. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1975-08-16. p. 78.
- Billboard, Top Single Picks Vol:87, No:33. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1975-09-08. p. 70.
- "Eric Clapton discography". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
- "Grateful Dead Live at Rambler Room, Loyola College on 1978-11-17 : Free Streaming : Internet Archive". Archive.org. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- "Gun N' Roses discography". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
- "Gig: 8/4/1988, The Alarm, Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA". TheAlarm.com. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
- "Dunblane Knockin' on Heaven's Door". bannockburnband.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
- "Dunblane against Guns". 1997-01-01. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 601. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Knockin' On Heaven's Door CD". BBC. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
- "Avril Lavigne Try to Shut Me Up Tour". lastfm.com. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
- "Russia halts forest highway construction as opposition grows - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 2010-08-26. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- U2 concert in Moscow 25.8.2010 on YouTube
- "Радио ЭХО Москвы :: FM-Достоевский, 29.08.2010 01:08 Последний выпуск: Артемий Троицкий". Echo.msk.ru. 2010-08-29. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- "Break in Protocol for a Rock Star With Putin". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- Fred Weir (2012-04-30). "An engineering mom leads effort to save an old-growth Russian forest". CSMonitor.com. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- Video on YouTube
- Phil, Collins. "Phil Collins - Knockin' On Heaven's Door + Band Introduction". youtube.com. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
- Springsteen, Bruce. "Bruce Springsteen - Knocking on heavens door". youtube.com. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
- "Jon Bon Jovi - Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Mexico 1997)". youtube.com. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
- "Arthur Louis reggae/blues cross-over cover version of Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Dylan)". youtube.com.
- "Avril Lavigne cover of Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Dylan)". youtube.com.
- "A list of cover versions of Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Dylan)". bjorner.com.
- "Bob Dylan's lyrics for Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Dylan)". bobdylan.com.