Knockin' on Heaven's Door (5:36)

Cover of Use Your Illusion II

From Use Your Illusion II and 65 other releases

“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan for the soundtrack of the 1973 film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. It reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. In 2004, representatives of the music industry and the press voted it #190 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time issue.

“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” was written for the Western “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”. The song describes the feelings and impressions of a dying deputy, who notices that it is getting dark around him as he is knocking on heaven’s door. He realizes that he will never use his badge or his guns 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.

Although it was originally recorded as an acoustic folk song, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” has been covered extensively in many styles, most famously by British blues-rocker Eric Clapton and by American hard-rock group Guns N’ Roses.

In 1987, Guns N’ Roses started including the song in their live sets. They recorded a studio version in 1990 for the Days of Thunder soundtrack, and in 1991 it appeared on the Guns N’ Roses studio album Use Your Illusion II. Released as the second single from the album, it reached #2 in the UK singles chart. Their performance of the song at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992 was included on their Live Era: ‘87–’93 album, released in 1999.

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