One of the most covered songs in music history, Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” has become one of those transcendent songs that has been appreciated and revived by so many artist that most people have probably forgotten about the original. Everyone has a version of this song that comes to mind when they hear the title, and I wanted to look at different artists who have knocked on the door of this classic song and added their own unique take on it.
Bob Dylan- “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
It’s more than likely you’re a fan of Bob Dylan and don’t even know it. His music has been sampled and covered for decades, creating different versions that fans of all different genres of music have been able to enjoy. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” is a prime example of a song that can be translated into an endless number of artistic varieties. Since its original release for the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid soundtrack in 1973, Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” has been covered nearly 100 times. Throughout all those versions there are some great ones, but everyone knows there isn’t anything like the original. There is a certain simplicity and calmness to Dylan’s song that makes it so special. Nothing sounds forced or ironic, the sound comes naturally and the serenity in Dylan’s voice and his smooth, relaxing tones are makes his version stand out. It’s a song fans can hear with ease, and that makes it special to him and his body of work. You can feel the emotion, you can feel the message, and it feels as if Dylan is right there at your door singing to you.
Eric Clapton-“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
One of the very first covers of the song, Eric Clapton’s version of the song came two years after Dylan’s original. Clapton is one of the biggest names to cover this song, and his version has proven to be a big hit. Clapton took one of the most unique approaches possible with a reggae influenced version of a song, which originally was performed with a much more conventional sound. Clapton is known for putting touches on songs that can only be identified as his own. Clapton has never hesitated to venture into unknown terrain and his willingness to adapt has made his legendary career undeniably captivating. When you hear Clapton you know it, and when you hear “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” you know which version is Clapton’s. Everything about this rendition is upbeat and smooth. It’s a song that probably shouldn’t make you happy but it does. Every version of this song allows listeners to hear it from a different frame of mind, and Eric Clapton’s version seems to be the cover that puts your mind at ease.
Guns n’ Roses-“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
Guns n’ Roses version of the song has probably become the most well-known thanks to the always piercing and aggressive vocals of Axl Rose. It’s known that Axl’s vocals have declined over the years, but with “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” he was at his best. This legendary group made a name for themselves with the attitude they put into every song, and this cover was no different. GNR takes a powerful yet elegant approach on the song to create a contrast that was the best of both worlds musically. Axl kept the soft tones that Dylan incorporated so well, but was still able to make it feel like a GNR song without over doing it and killing the grace and elegance of the original. This cover is everything a fan could ask for in a great rendition. As one of the hit singles off Use Your Illusion II, this cover created a new identity for the works of GNR, and created a new identity for Dylan’s song.