Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Knocking On Heaven's Door

by

Bob Dylan



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song is written from the perspective of a dying sheriff: "Mama, take this badge off of me/I can't use it anymore/It's gettin' dark, too dark for me to see/I feel like I'm knockin' on heaven's door." Dylan wrote it for the 1973 western film, Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid. It plays while Sheriff Colin Baker is dying from his gunshot wounds. Dylan cameos in the movie as the character, Alias.
Guns N' Roses covered this on their 1991 album, Use Your Illusion II. They played it in 1992 at a tribute concert for Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, who had died of AIDS. 72,000 people attended the concert, which was held in London's Wembley Stadium. In case you're wondering, towards the end of the end of this version, the man on the telephone says, "You just better start sniffin your own rank subjugation Jack, 'cause it's just you and your tattered libido, the bank and the mortician, forever man and it wouldn't be luck if you could get out of life alive."
In 1996, Bob Dylan allowed Scottish musician, Ted Christopher, to record a new verse for "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," which Christopher had written in memory of the schoolchildren and teacher killed in the Dunblane massacre. This is one of the rare times Dylan has officially permitted someone to add to or change the lyrics to one of his songs. Christopher's version reached #1 in the UK.
Warren Zevon recorded this for his 2003 album The Wind. Zevon was dying of lung cancer when he recorded the track, and died shortly after the album was released.

This song has been covered in reggae style by multiple artists including G.T. Moore & The Reggae Guitars, Arthur Louis and Eric Clapton.

Other artists to have covered this song include Avril Lavigne, Dolly Parton, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Cold Chisel, Neil Young and Aretha Franklin.
The title of the song was used as the original title for the Cowboy Bebop movie. Cowboy Bebop is a popular Japanese Anime that made a big hit in America when the dubbed version (done in the late '90s) was broadcast on Cartoon Network in 2001. Bebop was known for taking influences from pop culture (example: The title of episode 6 is "Sympathy for the Devil," obviously a take off of the Rolling Stones Song). When a full length Bebop movie was made in Japan, it was titled Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door. When it was dubbed and brought to theaters in America for a short time, they changed it to Cowboy Bebop: The Movie so Dylan wouldn't take any legal action against them. (thanks, Nick - Erwin, NC)
In October 2007, 1,730 guitarists in Shillong, India strummed this song for 5 minutes to set a world record for the largest ever guitar ensemble.
This song is musically similar to Neil Young's "Helpless," which was recorded in 1969 and features on the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album, Déjà Vu.
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan Artistfacts
More Bob Dylan songs
More songs about death
More songs covered by Eric Clapton

Comments (155):

Great tune, I'll have to watch "Pat Garrett" again and see how it is used with the Slim Pickens death scene. I've never been a big fan of the movie, but I love Slim. Played prominent roles in 2 of the greatest movies of all time, "Dr. Strangelove" and "Blazing Saddles." Not to mention when he stole the movie in the ending of the original "The Getaway" [the Steve McQueen one]

Loved Warren Zevon's version. Very poignant.
- DT, Gulf Breeze, FL
Maybe it doesn't mean guns, it means bad traits the mother is teaching her child not to have. I can't do them anymore. The evil is coming down, and I feel I'm knockin' on heaven's door. For help?
- Rivkah, Tiberias, Israel
I see nobody else wrote this, but I doubt I'm the first/only one to consider it. I've always heard the words playing in my head while making love with a woman, especially for the first time. Without getting too explicit, let's just say that gaining entrance into a woman's inner sanctum, as it were, one must first pass through Heaven's Door... her gateway to pleasure. The "badge" one is giving up at such a time is the time-honored badge we are all born with, that of virginity, which should be held onto with equal sanctitude until the right woman offers such entrance to her inner sanctum via Heaven's Door (if you don't understand the allegory, look at a drawing/photo of human female anatomy). The second verse describes what it's like after "things stop working", and the guy is shooting blanks or nothing at all... years later, hopefully. If he's a decent lover, he will have learned ways to please his woman while making love *without* the need for knocking on Heaven's Door...
- Professor, Austin, TX
Dylan and Young recognized the similarity and performed Helpless followed by Knockin' in a concert in 1975

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sDGTZRdQdw&feature=related

I believe though that the similarity between Young's recent "Roger and Out" is much closer to Knockin than Knockin was to helpless.

I like most of Dylan's singing, but I feel that it is stupid not to recognize that many of the BEST versions of his songs were performed by others e.g. All along the watchtower. This is a testament to his amazing writing and composing skills.
- BAP, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Don't insult our intelligence by even talking about Avril Lavigne's insulting version of this legendary song..that bimbo is just a speck in the enternal greatness of Bob Dylan.
- ginbo, Manila, Philippines
To cover most songs an artist must pay a usage maintenance fee (usually about $80 up front,not including royalties)to the copywrite holder of said song. I don't think Dylan adheres to this practice. And this,I believe,is to his credit. God bless him!But I just heard a really,really bad version of Knockin' on Heaven's Door by a German band. So I can understand why an artist would not like to have their song covered by EVERYONE.
- Guitorb, Warsaw, IN
http://www.playthatguitar.com/Discog.html

Through this webpage you can try to find Pete Carr's verion of Knocking on heaven's door. recorded around '77

-Nicolas Lin, Taichung, Taiwan
- Nicolas, Taichung, Taiwan
I actually prefer another version by Eric Clapton better.
- Alec Thorp, Yorktown Heights, NY
Different versions of the same song have meant different things to me at different stages of life just like so many times before... lol..its the music that matters not who is singing what!!!
- Nishant, Toronto, ON
I think you have to respect Bob Dylan for performing it first but Claptons version was better in its on way. I love the slide thrown in and harmonica. I'd say it's almost perfect
- Chris, Cincinnati, OH
I am probably one of the few here to have seen "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," for which this song was written.
It is played during a simply heart-crushing scene in which Slim Pickens is gutshot, then slumps down,sitting, clutching his stomach, with his life slowly and agonizingly ebbing away.
There is no help to give, and he must simply wait until his time ends.
The song itself is beautiful, and it is one of the few with Dylan singing without so much of the trademark nasal quality that plagued his slightly later years.
- oldpink, New Castle, IN
Does anyone else remember Young Guns? Quein Es?
- Linc, Beaumont, TX
This song is about Billy the Kid a.k.a. Henry McCarty a.k.a. William H Bonney.
- Henry O. Godwinn, Wheeling, WV
Dylan is the master that wrote this song.
While it may have been written for a movie over the years it has signified many things........

social conscience - anti war - anti govt - etc...

Dylan has many different lyrics played in live versions as do other artists.......

I am a songwriter working on my own cover at this time and use the song to depict different parts of a persons life........

love - war - music etc........ don't want to give away my lyrics as they not copyrighted yet.....

for those of you interested look for alternate lyrics by Dylan or other artists and you will see the song has many different meanings and will eternally be used this way with only the chorus repeating...........

for example dylan uses :

mama wipe the tears from my eyes
I cant see through them anymore
I'm sick and tired of this war
feel like I'm knockin on heavens door......

SO FOR ALL YOU OUT THERE CONFUSED THIS SONG HAS MANY LYRICAL AND SOCIAL CONTEXTUAL MEANINGS.......

MANY ARTISTS HAVE USED THIS TO MAKE STATEMENTS ABOUT THERE TIMES THEY LIVE IN........
- Ron, South Burlington, VT
According to Dylan's notes in the Biograph boxed set, he wrote the song for Slim Pickens' death scene in Pat Garret and Billy The Kid. If you watch the movie, the song plays as Pickens dies. As for the best version, Axl Rose's voice sounds like someone strangling a cat
- John, Roseville, CA
It may be the same is Neil Young's song, but considering the entire song is only 3 chords I bet there is 100's of songs that sound similar.
- Derek, Auburn, CA
This song has great lyrics...but the composition is basically a rip of off Neil Young's "helpless". (which came out first) Listen to both songs and tell me differently...
- David, huntington beach, CA
You people have to look at the facts their is nothing wrong with covering other peoples songs. imitation is the highest form of flattery. the Guns N Roses verision is the best I've heard. if people didn't cover songs we would miss out on a lot of great stuff. Two songs Jimi Hendrix is known for "all along the watchtower" (Bob Dylan) and "Hey Joe" Hendrix didn't write, but everybody loves those songs. If you dont like covers keep it to yourself because some of us don't care.
- Blane, Pocola, OK
Randy Crawford version of Heaven's door is very, very good. If you like Rock ballads you will like GNR version. In the Mel Gibson movie Lethal Weapon 2, I am not sure who sings the version at the end of movie but that version is great, as great as the Bob Dylan version which is the best. Never heard Avril Lavigne's version - if I was in a bar and they played it I would check it out.
- charles, Houston, TX
I had an older guitar teacher in high school named Tom Sumser, I asked him to teach me songs like those they played on the radio. This was one of them. I quit guitar for awhile. I bought another one in the Army in 1978. And one of the songs I played frequently in the Army was KNOCKING ON HEAVEN'S DOOR. I would mindlessly sing and play my guitar not really thinking about the meaning of the words. It was an easy 3 or 4 chord song the way my teacher showed me it. I think it annoyed some of the other servicemen since I was just a humble private and we all lived in a crowded barracks. Even one of the sargeants looked a bit odd at me once-but they played music in their rooms about narcotics abuse-so who cares? I did not even consider that Bob Dylan was so anti-millitary. I was born in 1959. I thought that Gun'z and Roses version I heard on the radio was some gag from Larry Cliver from my old Army unit who also played guitar.
- Tony, Toledo, OH
Avril Lavigne's version of this song??? Oh,sh*t...I just can't believe it...And about Dylan,he's mustard...
- Boris, Novosibirsk, Other
I am the biggest fan of Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan's version is the best one. I always like to sing and play it. It's my best one. Thanks all of you.
Bob Dylan is the best performer.
- Tegshe, Erdenet, Other
MEANING: Let's finally settle the score once & for all! This song was on the soundtrack for the movie "Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid," and that's EXACTLY what it's about! The famous lawman Pat Garrett who chose to hunt down his best friend and the notorious bandit king who terrorized the southwest. The chase went on for the better part of a year with the kid being caught and escaping several times. This song seems to represent an eternal struggle between friends turned enemies, both are at the end of their rope, desperately seeking a way out and feeling like time is running out.
- The Last DJ, Hell.A., CA
Dylan is one of the most amazing rock artists to ever hit vinyl/plastic/cellophane/whatever. I love his version of this song, but I have to say this: Warren Zevon's is actually better. Just thinking of him basically on his death bed singing this song is heartbreaking and makes it all the better. If you haven't heard it, go out and buy The Wind. It's a great album.
Clapton's version was the first I ever heard and it's great, too.
GNR's version is crap. No one should ever turn Dylan into a metal balled. It just doesn't work at all.
- Mark, Austin, TX
My name is Yasmeen. I am a singer who has recorded Knockin on Heaven's Door. It is one of the most requested songs that I sing. Dylan receives royalities, however, but I just want to say how much i love singing that song. many of the songs i write are patterned after this kind of mindset. i'm an african american woman who has added a gospel twist to it along with adding some socially conscious adlibs to it as well. along with the lines "take these guns off me" i adlib take this "racism off me, take this bigotry off me, take this ignorance of me." I'm knockin on heaven's door as a metaphor for a more open mind, a more humanitarian and spiritual way of living in harmony with mankind. i would also like to cover eric claptons "If I Saw You I Heaven."
- yasmeen, bowie, MD
What I find missing in all this "debate" is context. Context is fairly important in art. And since no one mentions the movie scene their opinion about meaning carries no validity. The scene was where Slim Pickins was sitting and slowly dying from a gun shot. One of flimdoms greatest scenes in my opinion. Dylan wrote the lyrics for that particular scene.
- marc, tucson, AZ
Its offical now the best version of this song is......................drumroll.................................................................... Cold Chisel on the live album Swingshift 1981..........with Ian Moss then Jim Barnes coming in half way through with...

'Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can't shoot them anymore.
That long black cloud is comin' down
I feel like I'm knockin' on heaven's door'.

is brilliant................
- Gerry Walsh, Melbourne, Australia
As this issue has been addressed already with no answer as of yet I will ask one more time? What is the song referring to? Is it about police?
- Angela, Martinsville, VA
Dylan wrote it. Guns 'n' Roses improved it, Avril should be locked up for ever singing it. Makes me wanna start a website Stopcoveringheavensdoor.com What is the world coming to.
- Ben, Hilversum, Netherlands
Dylan's original stands the test of time against all those that followed.

Dan London
- Dan, London, England
Like Dan, Lee, NH I want this song (Bob D vers) played at my funeral along with his Trying To Get To Heaven, Door (as covered by Robin Hitchcock), Springsteen's cover of W Zevon's My Ride's Here,
J Richman's cover of Satisfied Mind and Roger McGuinn's take on the Irish blessing - May The Road Rise. Still need 5-6 more - any similar themed/tempo songs welcomed .
Dan London
- Dan, London, England
Sorry Jason, the G&R version substitutes a C chord for A minor too many times.
- Bronc, Blue Balls, Canada
This song was playing when I was driving an ex girlfriends car. Find out, the car was stolen and I was listing to Dylan. Why do the 2 of these things always go together.

B- Syracuse, NY
- Bryan, Syracuse, NY
You all suck. The Guns n' Roses version kicks ass and what's wrong with re-makes of songs if there better? This song is always great no matter who does it, but GnR did it the best.

*Well I guess it's not always great, the Avril Lavigne one flat-out sucked.
- Jason, Rochestor, NY
guns and roses didn't do it justice its hard to beat dylans virson i mean its his work... people shouldn't copy other peoples work and "re-do" their songs...cause they usually turn out crappy...i mean that would be like me copying a vincent van goh painting and instead of painting it like the original put a 70's theme on the painting with a big fondue pot in the center...see what i mean...its not fair to the original artist because it takes from the thoughts and memories you've formed to the original song and as a listener you listen to the original song and you think those tards in guns and roses took away from it...stupid
- Madalyn, Greensburg, PA
Iread the last post and went looking - all I found was the G&R version under the LZ name! At www.last-fm.com I found this quote "led zeppelin and pink floyd never recorded, or preformed live with each other. all songs with this as their band title are wrong. The Most common ones are Stairway to Heaven (just Led Zeppelin) and Knocking On Heavens Door (The version going around is probably the Guns N Roses one". - ??
- Andre, Cape Town, South Africa
THE LED ZEPPELIN AND PINK FLOYD VERSION OF THIS SONG RULES ITS TRULY AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!
- stephen, Claymont, DE
Sembra che ci sia una terza strofa
chi la conosce la puo scrivere?
Roberto Roma Italia
- roberto, roma, Italy
Obviously, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" evokes feelings of weariness, despair, and impending death. It also means that sometimes people get tired of "fighting the good fight." When you're burnt out after a lifetime of trying to make the world a better place (and getting no where), then you might just say, "I gonna put my guns in the ground. I can't shoot them anymore." When Bob Dylan sings, "I can see that long black cloud comin' down," you can sense that he knows death personally. It is a haunting but also uplifting classic of a rock song!
- Bill, Queens, NY
Tutte le versioni sono bellissime ma quella dei Gun's and Roses vorrei che fosse suonata al mio funerale Robero Roma Italy
- roberto, roma, Italy
god people get so stressy ! the credit has to go to Bob Dylan for writing it and personally the singing for guns n' roses because it is sooo much more lively. I also quite like the pink floyd's version which is really unique. And more praise for guns n' roses Axl Rose's voice is fantasic!
- Samantha, London, England
Phil of Arizona, I can't even IMAGINE the pain... this is my second favorite Dylan tune, and I hope you're moving on efficiently. Just remember, time is a great healer, and your sister didn't die in vain. Thanks for sharing, and post here more often- God bless you.
- Steven, West Carrollton, OH
Hello, Im new here, I found this site looking for new versions of Knockin on heavens door.
this song is very special to me, It was the song my sister always beged me to play, she loved it, I had the honor and pain of playing it by her side july 18 2005, the day she died. It was the best moment and worst I ever had in my life, It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but the most important to me.
I just wanted to say that the song is great and I still play it to this day, but I never could finish it, I never get all the way through.

Bob dylans version I like most.
the hardest thing for me is, it was the first song I ever learned how to play on the guitar, and the last song I ever got to play for her.
- Phil, Avondale , AZ
I think both songs(GNR and Dylan) are beautiful in their own categories and I will not demean either. I am typically not a Bob Dylan fan but I love this song; however, I am a large GNR fan. I believe GNR had something going with their cover, but for some reason I don't find that the vocals quite fit. Close, but not quite.
- River, sdfa, Iceland
I enjoy Bob Dylan's version so much more.
- Coby, Winfield, PA
bob dylan did the best version. i am a big guns n roses fan and a big eric clapton fan but i found that their versions sucked compared to the original
- dan, new york, United States
I've previously remarked that I'd collected 35 different versions of this song (which already makes me smile at discussions as to whether GNR or Dylan's version was the best...) - well it's now time to admit that I've been busy collecting more and now have 74 identifiable different versions (including a couple of spoof comedy ones). This is by no means the end of the game. From other sites I've discovered there have to be at least another 70 or so out there, with new versions being recorded every year. Without trying to promote visitors to my own website, I have now started a couple of dedicated pages for this song with short (30-40 second) sound samples for identification purposes only. It's an ongoing project (= not yet complete) but may be of some interest to other fans.... check it out at www.waggworld.com/creative and follow "Heaven's Door"
- Andy, Den Haag, Holland
Is there anyone knows about a version released around 1980, by a singer, sound like "Picarr", not very sure. This version last 10 minutes. The guitar solo was fantastic. This was the best I ever heard.

Nicolas Lin, Taiwan.
- Nicolas, Taichung, Taiwan
Dylan nailed this. The word "definitive" comes to mind. Guns 'n Roses may have sung from their own experience, knowing what we now know about the band, but Dylan takes all. I haven't heard the Avril Lavigne version, but if I were her, I would probably stick to "Sk8ter Boi" (which, in its own way, is a wonderful song).
- Clarke, Pittsburgh, PA
Bob Dylan has the talent, the right, and the style to pull off "knocking on heaven's door" and most of all, he wrote it. it sounds best coming from him. then i'd say eric did well, and then guns and roses. i haven't listened to avril lavigne's side of it, but classic rock should be left to classic rockers.. not punk bimbos.

-EricA
- EricA, Anchorage, AK
Eh, I'm sorry but I think that Clapton's version is better than Guns 'n' Roses. Avril Lavigne's version is certainly better than Guns 'n' Roses. It's hard to say which I think is best. Uhm I'd say the original and Clapton's version first. Then Avril's version, and then G'n'R.
- Loony Moony Lupin, Virginia
Guns 'n Roses did a geat cover, but nothing beats the original. Dylan is soooooo good.
- Jon, Oakridge, OR
re louis, san diego, CA zep and floyd's version
please tell me where to get this!!!!
and when it was recorded and where!!!!!!!!1
belinda, valencia , spain
- belinda hunter, valencia, Spain
Didn't read all the above, just wanted to mention Roger Waters does a cover of this on Flickering Flame.
- Edwin, Bozeman, MT
Sorry Dave. Spelled your name wrong.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
DAve. Not all Dylan fans are old farts who hate newer music. It's all a matter of taste. I'm 17 years old, and think his is better, although GNR's is good. Claptain's is interesting, because of the reggae thing, and I have not heard Pink Floyd's cover yer. BTW, i can't imagine Avril Lavigne singing this song. That's just strange!
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Axl Roses voice is amazing. People who have only listnened to GNR think that axl just has a sqawky voice, which isnt true. He chooses to sqawk, which in some songs works other it doesnt. this one it does.
- Spencer, McBride, Canada
It wasnt Axl. that did great on the Guns N' Roses version...it was Slash's solo's..he added heart to an already great song..covers arent always a bad thing...unless stupid themes like reggae are added
- Jeff, Sothington, CT
The Seekers version is by far the best
- pete, nowra, Australia
It's true, the GNR version is great but Bob Dylan's is the best by far. And it's also true that Jimi Hendrix's version of 'All Along The Watchtower' is far better than the original.
- Rahul, Ottawa, Canada
I like Guns N' Roses version a lot. That maybe becasue I've never heard Dylan's.
- Dalton, Columbus, GA
ilike this song i just wished they would have given dylan more lines in the movie
- kyle, king george, VA
when dylan performs this live the first two lines of the second verse usually goes like "Mama wipe this blood outta my face/I just can't see through it anymore" (as heard on the MTV Unplugged from 1996 and Dylan & the Dead from 1989, where dylan performs some songs with Grateful Dead).
- Petter, Ã?ngelholm, Sweden
Bob Dylan is the greatest. His version is the best. It feels raw and more personal. Clapton's was good. I'm also a big fan of Clapton, so maybe I'm biased. And GnR's version is pretty good to. That's the order I feel is best. I don't think this song could make any musician sound bad, except for Avril Lavigne. That version flat out sucked.
- Jim, Philadelphia, PA
Dylan's version is the best. The mood has much more to do with what the song is about. Clapton's is a nice reggae version but Dylan makes the song make sense. Plus he wrote it. I dont like GNR's version as much. Axl's singing isn't all that nice sounding, which doesn't work particularily well with this song. Lavigne just copied it exactly, doesn't sing it as well and is missing out on some background guitar or something. Pretty much anyone who plays a guitar can do what Avril did
- Kartik, Peace River, Canada
I like almost all the versions.But I feel Pink floyd has the different one especially with the voice of Roger Waters.
- joshy, cochin, India
there is so maany way you can play this song on guitar. with solo, with out solo, with chords, with single notes. i play it with GDC chords repeated then do the Guns "N" roses solo to it.
- Jordan, Aberdeen, Scotland
There are two different versions of the movie PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID, the original cut and the director's cut. In the director's cut, HEAVEN'S DOOR does not contain any vocals. However the original version of the movie has the vocals. By the way PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID is a great movie worth checking out. It will be coming to DVD in early '06.
- Barry, New York, NY
I want this song played at my funeral!
- Dan, Lee, NH
Despite the lyrics for the longest time(prior to seeing the peckinpah movie and learning the history) I thought this song was written about drugs... Who knew it was really about a gut-shot sheriff played by slim pickens... big surprise... btw, Dylan's is my favorite version but if you want the best cover please look for Pink Floyd's version(hard to find)... also good are by Warren Zevon, GNR, Eric Clapton, and Randi Crawford(with sax)... collectively it's got to be my favorite song of all time
- Steve, Bangor, ME
I am a huge Bob Dylan fan, but I also like GnR. But frankly, without a doubt, Bob Dylan's original version of Knockin' On Heaven's Door far surpasses GnR's cover. Dylan's masterpiece boasts soft vocals and a clean tone, while GnR has Axl Rose screaming and phone calls throughout the butchered song. GnR decided to cover this song without even understanding what the meaning of the song is. Just because it has wailing guitar solos and heavy, exciting beats does not mean it is better than the classic Dylan song. Songs do not need to be loud to be great. When Dylan wrote this song, he was not trying to cater to popular music. Instead, he was expressing internal emotions. Congratulations to Guns N' Roses for picking such a wonderful piece of art but what a shame that they could not execute the cover appropriately.
- Jack, Chicago, IL
Avril's version is what i call a disaester. i'm sorry. The original is always the best. Other good versions are the guns n' roses and i personally like the pink floyd one. I heard some girl from that show on tv where they look for a lead singer for inxs sing it. it was just as bad as avrils, i think worse.
- chris, walnut creek, CA
The original is, by far, the best. It´s not easy to cover this and have a bad result (except if you´re Avril Lavigne!).
- Oskar, Bilbao, Spain
"There was a CD released about a year ago called "A Reggae Tribute To Bob Dylan" or something like that. He re-recorded this as a reggae song. That could also be what people think is the "Bob Marley & Bob Dylan" version."

The "Bob Marley & Bob Dylan" version is actually the one from "At Budokan", where a Ska-like version is played.
- Caspar, Goes, Netherlands
There was a CD released about a year ago called "A Reggae Tribute To Bob Dylan" or something like that. He re-recorded this as a reggae song. That could also be what people think is the "Bob Marley & Bob Dylan" version.
- Kevin, Campbell River, Canada
I think this song is about Dylan trying to get away from music, but mainly just the main stream and go to a greater place.
- Dan, Lee, NH
Dave from New Zealend is a dick head! Guns and Roses didnt write the song. Dylan wrote it. Its more authentic. Its just done in a different style by guns and roses, it was done in thier style. Dylans version is better. And his voice is more unique than Axl Roses.
- paul, flagstaff, AZ
Guns 'N' Roses have definately made Knockin' On Heaven's Door to be listened by everyone by making it longer with 2 great Guitar Solos. Slash plays on a 12 String Double Neck Guitar in this song and it sounds amazing with the accompaniment of the Bass (Duff) and Chords (Izzy). No one can sing like Axl Rose and that is why every cover song they do is always way better than the Original - that is a FACT!!! Only Axl Rose's unique voice can turn the world upside down because I think he is the best entertainer on the planet.
- Ryan, Lincoln, England
All you Dylan fans are locked up in cages amongst yourselves. Guns N Roses version is much more lively with Axl's voice matched perfectly with the choir and with great pianoing and very electrifying electric guitaring and solid decent drums. GnR make 5:30mins out of a 2:30min song... So Dylans version is better if you're an old boring fart with no sense for forward progression
- Dave, Chch, New Zealand
For the small amount of words it was always a lyrically powerful song for me but the music made this one more so, by Dylan first and foremost. I guess not many have heard the 'Headstones' version that is at the other end of the tempo scale and I like better than most other covers.
- Andy Miceli, Toronto, Canada
I suppose it's a bit sad but to date I've managed to collect 35 different versions of the song by....Roger McGuin, Freddie McGregor, HIM, Pink Floyd, Herman Brood, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Bryan Adams, The Scorpions, Avril Lavigne, Nina Hagen, Selig, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Altijd Lazerus, Goerge Bush Remix, Neil Young, Bon Jovi, Mickie Krause, Wyclef Jean, Mark Knopfler, Nazareth, U2, Led Zepplin, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Randy Crawford, Dolly Parton,Guns n Roses, Ladysmith Black Mambozo,Van Morrison, The Grateful Dead, The Lenningrad Cowboys, The Sisters of Mercy, Eric Burdon, Tom Petty and of course Dylan himself. I know of at least another ten versions I haven't yet managed to track down, but I'm working on it. The one redeeming feature is that to the best of my knowledge Rolf Harris has never touched it....... andy@waggworld.com
- Andy, Den Haag, Holland, United States
Daniel Lioneye and The Rollers, does a cover of this song on there Album King of Rock N' Roll....Its nothing like any of the versions out there that i have heard it is more hard rock than the others...it is a decient cover of it but of course can not touch the original....

***If you have never heard of Daniel Lioneye and The Rollers...(also known as just Daniel Lioneye) they are a really good band with a real unique sound check them out***
- maria, Seminole, FL
Both Dylan's and GNR's version is great. I think the worst cover is by Avril Lavigne. Man, do I hate pop-rock.
- Imran, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Yeah they are known for it like-Wild Horses-Hard Luck Woman-Fallen Angels(dio-areosmith)-and you get where im going.But lets quit anime talk before we get flamed and agree this is a beautiful and yes Avril Lavine needs a bullet added to her skull for her crimes againist muic.
- Brandon, Morristown, TN
Cowboy Bebop has NUMEROUS references to popular American rock. Episode 2 is "Honky Tonk Woman", Episode 10 is "Toys in the Attic", Episode 14 is "Bohemian Rhapsody", Episode 15 is "My Funny Valentine", along with the references previously mentioned. I don't think any1 cares tho...
- Alfred, Atlanta, GA
Just so everyone knows... the version that everyone thinks is by Bob Marley, it's actually Eric Clapton
- Andy, Olmsted Falls, OH
Bob Dylan - what a songwriter. I feel sorry for this generation (that sadly im part of) where a lot of them think that simle plan is 'real music'
I think GNR did a very good cover of this song, as i am a GNR fan, but has anyone heard Avril Lavine's cover? it'll be a happy day when she dies
- Danny, Sydney, Australia
Next to "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" (on the first Traveling Wilburys album), this is my favorite Dylan song. But I like the covers better (sorry, Bob). Guns and Roses' is great, but Warren Zevon's version will move you to tears. Whoever sings it, it's a great song.
- Jude, Thomasville, GA
Bob Marley's version is the best. Gun's N' Rose's version is terrible.
- Andy, Olmsted Falls, OH
I love this song.Beautiful and a little moving.Ive oly heard the Guns verison and I like it.And on the Cowboy Bebop thing,One of the episiodes was called Black Dog Serinade-A Zeppelin thing im guessing?
- Brandon, Morristown, TN
haha, wow. maybe its because i hate guns and roses but the bob dylan version pretty much rips the GNR version's arms off then beats it with its own arms. that axl character's voice probably sounds like what youd hear from a vets office as they castrate a cat. i mean, sure GNR made it longer, but its quality not castrated-cat quantity. whoever said dylans voice fits all too well with the song is smart, i like them. this song really makes you think though, no matter who sings it, and no one can deny that.
- Tom, plainfield, IL
I prefer Dylan's version over any other.
Clapton's wasn't bad, but I don't even like the Guns n' Roses cover.
- Jake, Toronto, Canada
If you want to hear a great version of this by a female singer, Randi Crawford did an awesome job! She poured her heart and soul into it!
- Janetlee, Panama City, FL
Bob Dylan is a legend and his oice is in the perfect tone for this song, by the way Bob Dylan recently admitted Jimi Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower was better than his own
- Neil, Sunderland, DC
I'm sorry to inform all you GUNS AND ROSES fans that Australian band COLD CHISEL did the same version as them. However it was 10 years earlier than Guns and Roses (same backup vocal sounds and everything). The only difference between the two version is Axel is screaming instead of Jimmy Barnes screaming. I've always considered Gun's version not a tribute to Dylan but a tribute to the Cold Chisel version of the great Dylan song. They must of heard it because Guns have high regard for Australian Pub rock especially Rose Tatoo who were one of their inspirations to form a band. Greatest Live album I've ever heard is called "Swingshift" by Cold Chisel (1981). And Heavens door version is on that one.
- Tom, Brisbane, Australia
I'm not here to pick sides on this argument but I have 3 versions of Knockin' On Heaven's Door, GN'R's, Dylan's, and Zevon's, and I have to say that each one is unique in it's own way, Dylan's being the original was excellent in respect that it was the first, Guns version was, IMHO to drag their fans into the '70's and get them turned on to Dylan and to rock it up a bit, I mean look what they did for Live And Let Die, could be wrong on that but that's my opinion, and Warren's was much more meaningful b/c he was on the edge of dying when he recorded it and you can hear that in his voice when he sings it. So in conclusion all 3 versions are rockin' in their own little way.

Snake Custer, SD
- Snake, Custer , SD
Most of you are ignorant. Dylan a lousy performer? Have you ever seen him in concert? He's a legend! His band rocks! His entire performance was breath-taking. He was the original.
- Molly, Indianapolis, IN
GNR made it better, but the original is still good.
- Josh, Phoenix, AZ
To Max: It's actually Jon Bon Jovi who intro's their cover of Knockin` On Heaven's Door as you typed it. I have Bon Jovi's version and as much as I'm a BJ freak I prefer GnR's cover.
- Nikki, Melbourne, Australia
U2 and Led Zepplin covered this, and that would be my favourite version, other people I know have done a version are -

Avril Lavagne
Eric Clapton
Adam Sandler (taking the mick out of Guns N Roses voices)
and of course G n R
- Jack Lee, Nottingham, England
Yes, a lot of bands have covered this song. In fact, Bruce Springsteen does a cover of it and he actually states the following. "Let's have a little fun with this. As a songwriter, i think you um you always look to other song writers to give you influence and every once in a while a song will pop up that um, you wish you wrote. And though this song was covered by probably a hundred people, this was written by bob dylan. ANd it greatly influenced my writing in the young guns soundtrack..." and he goes on more.

Finally, i just have to say out of all of the verions, Dylans is the best and if u dont agree then you dont have the right to listen to it at all.
- Max, Manalapan, NJ
I think the song is a little too repetitive, which makes it borring. Not one of Dylands best.
But I prefere Dylands version to Guns n Roses.
- Martin, Copenhagen, Denmark
My favorite cover is one done by Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. If you havent heard it I think you should definitly listen to it. I think it is actually better than Dylan's and GnR's.
- louis, san diego, CA
Dylan's version is by far the better of the two. Is not the point of music to be creative, original, and ingenious? While I will admit that Axl did add some "um...interesting" aspects to 'Knockin on Heaven's Door,' it can never compare with Dylan. GNR's version doesn't hold the intended emotion, that is, the subdued acceptance of something terrible, yet inevitable that Dylan's does.
- jamie, merce, TX
To me Dylan's version is much better for he wrote it and played it the way it was ment to be played. on the other hand the other versions are great and the reason for that is that Dylan wrote the song, like so many others of his, so well that it can be intuperreted and played in so many different ways and still sound great. that is why I think that his song is better but like i said before the other versions are still good to listen to.
- Evan, memphis, TN
Guns N' Roses is awesome! They do a better version of it. Same as all Dylan songs, other people play it better than he does.
- Izzy, Vernon Hills, IL
Everyone's got an opinion and mine is Bob Dylan's version is the BEST. G'n'R to screetchy, typical Axl Rose voice it just doesn't go for that type of song...
- Kitten, NYC, United States
Guns n Roses made it rock. Axl Rose has an amazing and unique voice - it certainly rocks my socks.
- Lexie, London, England
First of all, it's all an opinion, so no one should be taking it so seriously. Secondly, I have to strongly disagree with anyone who calls Axl Roses voice terrible and screechy, as he was one of the greatest singers in the history of music. Bob Dylan deserves all the credit for writing/inventing the song, and he was great. However, GNR did an excellent job in their replica. Their verion is more lively and emotion instilling, while Dylans, has a more peaceful sound to it. PS (dpr) clearly you cant appreciate excellence and unique singing, becuase Guns changed the face of rock forever, and Axl's voice is untouchable. You can critizes his voice when you sell records like he did.
- Adam, Bethany, CT
You cant even question who's is better because if there was no Bob Dylan then Guns and Roses would have never had a song to cover, and Dylan is 100 times better
- Brett, Watertown, SD
It's about A sherrif dying after being shot
- Luke, Manchester, England
The guy on the phone says:

"YOU JUST BETTER START SNIFFIN' YOUR OWN RANK SUBJUGATION JACK 'CAUSE IT'S JUST YOU AGAINST YOUR TATTERED LIBIDO, THE BANK AND THE MORTICIAN, FOREVER MAN AND IT WOULDN'T BE LUCK IF YOU COULD GET OUT OF LIFE ALIVE"
- Luke, Manchester, England
guns n roses version is way better / more complex / more skillfully handled / more creative, etc, etc
- adrian, merthyr tydfil, AL
you guys are always talkin about how much better Hednrix's version of Watchtower was better, well bob dylan wrote that sont specifically for him so thats why, and i think that Dylan's version is the best
- eric, Caldwell, KS
in the gnr version, does anyone know what the guy on the phone is saying?
- Billy Ross, Hagerstown, MD
I think that Daniel Lioneye's version is the best. He's not too well known, but it's a great song.
- Brandon, Brentwood, TN
Dylan's was okay, but in my opinion GnR did the best job out of any of them. Maybe it's because of my age, but I get the meaning from GnR version, while when hearing Dylans version all I think about is an old western saloon.
- Zek, Columbus, GA
Dylan sang that song the way it was meant be sung. Guns 'n' Roses made an alright effort, but the Jerry Garcia Band created an unforgettable version found on "After Midnight," the show at Kean College 2/28/80
- Mike, Fairfield, CT
"knockin..." is one of the classic songs that every famous singer play as a tribute to dylan (many people learned to play or sing in a band with this song); i have many cover of this including: bob marley, bon jovi & springstein, pink floyd, led zeppelin, clapton, lavrigne; most of them are on live recordings, added ad lib during the show to thank a milestone of music as dylan is
- lorenzo, florence, Italy
I think it should be seen as a great complement to an artist when people cover their song to such a high standard that has fans arguing. I think songs can be improved in some cases ..... Joe Cocker - with a little help from my friends as an example
- Jim, Glasgow, Scotland
The good news is that we all agree Heaven's Door is a powerful song. If you haven't heard Zevon's version of it, it's worth 99-cents, maybe 99 grand. To hear a man who knows he's dying sing these words,.. Besides there?s a personal connection, as Bob played harmonica on one of Warren's tracks and covered Zevon's Mutineer in concert and on a Zevon tribute record. BTW, Dylan fans, if you haven't spent much time listening to Zevon's lyrics to his own songs, you owe it to yourself. A great writer, haunted in some ways by his novelty song hit - Werewolves of London - which, out of context of his whole body of work, can seem quite trivial. To add fuel to the "making covers better" debate, I read somewhere that when Dylan heard Jimi's Watchtower he changed the way he sang it. As for making a cover your own song, when you consider Hey Joe does anyone ever think of any artist first but Jimi, yet many recorded it before him; The Leaves, Love, The Byrds, etc. Now most play it Jimi?s dramatically different way.
- TJ, Providence, RI
As much as I am a fan of Dylan, I listen to a live Grateful Dead version of this song more than the original. Garcia takes it so far, makes it a complex jam tune, but I appreciate the original version as well.
- Logan, Abilene, TX
Didn't use the same melody at the begining of "Let it be"
- Kevin, sunrise, FL
Just to end this, Bob Dylan's version's is the definitive version. Other artists can come along and add something to the original, but the song will always be Dylan's no matter how good the other artist does it. There is no such thing as "making your cover version of somebody else's song your own". End of debate!
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
bob dylan guns 'n' roses and eric clapton are all great bob dylan is the best though but guns 'n' roses did a great job making it the way they did and so did eric clapton.depending on what mood youre in theres a time for all of them
- yitzy, brooklyn, OK
Guns 'n' Roses did a much better job with this song!
- sarah, melbourne, Australia
The perfect version would be Bob Dylan BUT with Slash on guitar cos his solos in the GN'R version are absolute gems! Just imagine if they did that.
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
Ya GnR totally rocks. I saw Dylan do it live and it was awesome. i luv both versions. i hope the lyrics don't apply to Bob. that'll be a repeat of Jerry Garcia...(starts to sob remembering his funeral)
- Jack, Knoxville, TN
That's another childhood song.My dad loved this western and I really Loved that song.I have to say that Bob Dylan's version is much better than the Guns n' Roses one.It reveals the pain and despair that Patt has.
- Janis, Port Arthur, TX
In the movie, the song is about Pat Garrett, and outlaw who is made into a sheriff and ordered to hunt down his old friend billy the kid. "Mama, take this badge off of me, I can't use it anymore." It's the sheriff's badge, he has no desire to be one when it becomes clear that he must help kill the lifestyle he truly loves. Those are the facts, but in a specific sense I take the knockin' on heaven's door to be about how close Garret is to being an outlaw again, his heaven. In the non-movie related sense of the song, I think it's about a man deciding to be killed rather than fight back, and he's going to die, but he thinks his decision puts him at heaven's door.
- Evan, Memphis, TN
I think its about a guy in the line of duty shoots an innocent man by mistake so he's ashamed and just broken and he realizes he's not gonna go to heaven but he is still knockin on its doors.
- Greg, Sugar Land, TX
everybody that said guns 'n' roses version is better, you're wrong, bob dylan's version is much better. and i'm not even none of those people that claims the original is always better, no, to me, jimi hendrix version of 'all along the watchtower' is a lot better than dylan's. but there is no way in hell guns and roses performs this better than dylan, i'm sorry, it's just not true. it's not even a matter of differing opinions, because those who claim dylan's version is inferior are victims of poor taste, so they're disqualified from even offering an opinion. it's not your fault, you were probably dropped on your head as a baby or not fed properly. also, avril lavigne's version is bad, but when she throws in those 'yeah yeah yeahs', well, that just makes me angry. someone needs to drop her on her head.
- shahzad, portage, MI
the best version is by-far bob dylan, anyone who disagree's is crazy and on drugs!!!
- Jeff, Windsor, Canada
Soldiers don't wear badges.
- Dave, Windsor, Canada
wow, not a single person had an opinion on the song's meaning. I think it's pretty much straightforward. War is a pure insanity and for those who had to experience it, it made them who they weren't. By shooting people for the sake of survival, they turn into monsters. The narrator in this song is crying from the pain and he wants to leave this apocalyptic world.
- Yu, Demarest, PA
Bob Dylans version of Knockin on heavens door is by far the best, followed by Eric Clapton, Guns and Roses butchered the song with the screeching heys, and squirly voice.
The Guns N' Roses version was done in a different key so that it fitted in with Axl Rose's voice.
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
It's better as a C than it is an A minor anyway. And Guns 'N' Roses did do it better.
- Don, Philadelphia, PA
Guns 'n Roses didn't even play it right, they kept playing a C chord when it was an A minor! Idiots! Plus, I could never take that guy's screech (what MORON told him "You have a good voice, you should be a singer"?) From 1987 up until when Jerry Garcia died the Grateful Dead used to play this song quite a bit, the version from the July 6, 1987 Pittsburgh show was stunning! Find it online and download it, Garcia's guitar will make you cry.
- drp, Pittsburgh, PA
I agree with you andrew some of the most famous dylan songs are done better by other artists like
All along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix and Knockin on Heaven's Door by Gn'R
- Izzy, Vernon Hills, IL
Dylan was definantly a better writer than performer, not too say he wasnt an awesome artist though
- Andrew, Springfield, MO
Avril absolutely slaughtered this version of the song, what the hell was she thinking when she sang it? There was no passion, she wasn't into it, hell even the start of it she was kinda bland. Bob Dylan does it better then she does and Guns N Roses Mastered the song.
- Raven, London, Canada
i agree that i actually do prefer the guns and roses version a lot better, but I really like Dylan's version as well. erica i see what you're saying- what IS the song about?
- julia, london, England
I like the Guns n roses version a lot, but this one is pretty good. I don't go for folk music too much.
- Will, Portland, OR
Your right Don, Eric Clapton wrote a cover of knockin on heavens door With a Regae feel I suggest any one who loves this song to check it out, it a great cover, I love all three versions of it, Bob dylan wrote an awesome song, so what if someone loves the song so much that they cover it ,, i say more credit to Bob Dylan
- Nick, Shelton, CT
so he wrote "Knockin," "Watchtower," etc. Does that really mean he did them better? Why can't a band, much later on, take a great song and improve upon it? And if any cover songs did that, it was those two. No knock on Dylan's performance of them, but they just went to new heights (particularly Watchtower) as cover songs.
- Nick, San Francisco, CA
Avril lavignes version is just pathetic. why did she even bother? nobodies going to be topping the guns n roses version. they just made a good song great.
I always like the original best i have a greater respect for the writer of the song then the group or person that covers it. Bob Dylan has wrote plenty of songs that have been coverd by lots of artists. Its easy to hear a song and cover and improve upon whats al ready written its harder to come up with the idea for the song.
- Justin, Bakersfield, CA
A version of this song was also a UK No.1 charity hit in December 1996 for a collective called 'Dunblane' in the memory of a class of schoolchildren who were murdered by a gun-wielding lunatic in Scotland. Gabrielle also sampled Dylan's version on her millionselling 2000 chart-topper, "Rise". Avril Lavigne's version can't be that good - no one else I've asked is even aware that she covered it, and quite a few of my mates are big fans of hers, too!
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
how could a cover possibly be better than the original...it's not the true feelings or emotions of the cover band. Dylan is the true mastermind and while other bands perform his songs well, there is no way that they should get as much repect as dylan for performing a song that he created.
- Freddy, lebanon, PA
Avril Lavigne's cover of it is awesome! Even people who don't like her music, love her version of it.
- shawn, loganville, GA
I am a huge Dylan nut, but I have to admit, I like the G'n'R version too. And while Dylan was a brilliant song writer (possibly the most brilliant EVER), he was not always the best performer. Lets face it, Jimi's "All Along the Watchtower" was better; Manfred Mann's "Quinn the Eskimo" was much better than Dylan's original; and you can make a good case Billy Joel's "To Make You Feel My Love" was better. And those are the only ones I thought of off the top of my head. I still like Dylan's version more, but I don't think it "Blasphemey" to say G'n'R's version is better. Oh, and it's ironic to call someone a "communist" for saying this, as Dylan at times flirted with communism himself (and proudly considers himself a socialist today).
- Matthew, New York, NY
Eric Clapton also covered this song and, if memory serves, had a bigger hit with it.
- don, rapid city, SD
Blasphemey! What, are you a communist? Guns 'n' Roses made it better? What does that mean?

Sorry, I just don't see remakes being better than originals...ever...even if Axl Rose adds in a few "Bang, bang, bang, etc."
Both the Dylan version and the Guns 'n' Roses versions are great, but I'd have to say that Guns 'n' Roses Made it better.
- cody, san antonio, TX
You have to to post comments.
Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"Mike Scott of The Waterboys - "Fisherman's Blues"
Armed with a childhood spent devouring books, Mike Scott's heart was stolen by the punk rock scene of 1977. Not surprisingly, he would go on to become the most literate of rockers.
Tony Hiller and Brotherhood of ManTony Hiller and Brotherhood of Man
The man behind Brotherhood of Man is one of the most prolific and successful songwriters in the UK.
90210 to Buffy to Glee: How Songs Transformed TV90210 to Buffy to Glee: How Songs Transformed TV
Shows like Dawson's Creek, Grey's Anatomy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed the way songs were heard on TV, and produced some hits in the process.
Billy Gould of Faith No MoreBilly Gould of Faith No More
Faith No More's bassist, Billy Gould, chats to us about his two new experimental projects, The Talking Book and House of Hayduk, and also shares some stories from the FNM days.