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PostPosted: Sat January 9th, 2010, 16:41 GMT 

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Another masterpiece, covered countless times. The MEZ agrees, it is indeed one of his most underappreciated classics. At least I often underestimate it. I love the MTV unplugged version with the harmonica interludes. Last played live 8-10-03, quite some time for such a classic. although it's so well known & covered so frequently he may feel it's so overexposed? In any event I give it a big thumbs up, even though I don't often listen to it. Anyone have a similar take or different take on this track? Posts, comments, dates etc. MEZ


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PostPosted: Sat January 9th, 2010, 17:40 GMT 

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Great song.

I HATE the MTV Unplugged version. For me the one on Bootleg vol. 5 is the definitive version of this song, which is awesome.


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PostPosted: Sat January 9th, 2010, 18:29 GMT 
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The studio version from PG&BK is the one for me. Feels like a prayer should feel: a desperate, humble request for redemption. As opposed to Axl Rose's gospel metal schmaltz version, in which is he knocks on heaven's doh-ooo-waah-hey-hey-hey-hey-yeah.


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PostPosted: Sat January 9th, 2010, 18:55 GMT 
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the versions from 2001/2002 are great http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRSUXPmiahs


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PostPosted: Sat January 9th, 2010, 21:30 GMT 
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The voacl harmonies from 2001/2002 are really nice. I like the MTV version though the steel guitar puts it on the edge for me. The Before the Flood version is kind of in your face, which I like. The Live At the Budakon, with the flittery flute... yeah, that one has an interesting vibe to it. I'd like to hear one with Donnie and Elana James on violins/fiddles, Bob's keyboard on piano rather than organ, Stu and Charlie on electric guitars (I'd accept acoustic, I guess)... That would be pretty good.

(actually, I'd prefer Bob on electric guitar too but they have him so low in the mix when he's on guitar that you can't hear him so why bother?)


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PostPosted: Sat January 9th, 2010, 22:06 GMT 
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The live versions that spring to mind:

RTRs, of course
Sydney 1986
Dortmund 1987 show opener in a brilliantly sequenced concert
Bremen 1998 (personal favorite from the "NET")
as mentioned--those 2001-2002s--my choices would come from February '02--Sunrise, Charlotte


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 04:03 GMT 

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Here's an absolutely stunning version from Madrid '89. This year is pretty hit and miss, a lot of the time he seemed less than coherent, but as this performance demonstrates there were some truly shining moments to be discovered. He is quite loose but very much "in the zone." It starts out with just him and GE Smith jamming on acoustic and then BAM! the rest of the band comes in as Dylan blasts raggedly on the harmonica. If it doesn't appeal to you right from the start, hang in there because it really picks up and shifts dynamics a few times. He just seems to get more and more into it as they go along, it's way groovy. Coincidentally I was about to post it in my next Mim's Picks thread, but as this thread came up I'll save it for later in the series and opt for something else.

1989-06-15 Madrid, Spain:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/e78nvl (FLAC)
http://www.sendspace.com/file/zjigz8 (m4a for Quicktime/iTunes)


I also really like this one with Sheryl Crow from the penultimate show of the five-night stand at the El Rey Theater that ended the fall tour of 1997.

1997-12-20 Los Angeles, CA:
http://www.sendspace.com/file/y37gl6 (FLAC)
http://www.sendspace.com/file/efdy3n (m4a for Quicktime/iTunes)

And of course, the one from BS6 is great. I really don't care at all for the Budokan '78 arrangement; it's completely ridiculous to play this song as a lighthearted jaunt IMO. (Though as the above '89 version illustrates, it needn't always be slow and somber, either.)


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 18:04 GMT 

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"Rock am Ring Festival 1998": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW7P_LLVyhg
read the info-box....


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 18:17 GMT 
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I find it difficult to consider this song as any kind of masterpiece--what sort of mastery is on display? 3 chords anyone could play, simple verses with a repeated line that also serves as a chorus. It is an effective song in its cinematic moment, performed well. Is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star a masterpiece, or is Beethoven's Fifth Symphony? If they both are, what does the term "masterpiece" mean?


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 18:26 GMT 
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I think for many people, the term masterpiece is used for the distinction separating "I like it" from "I really like it."


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 19:17 GMT 
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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.--da Vinci


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 19:24 GMT 
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John B. Stetson wrote:
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.--da Vinci


"da Vinci sucks" Michaelangelo :lol:


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 20:52 GMT 
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hollis1960 wrote:
John B. Stetson wrote:
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.--da Vinci


"da Vinci sucks" Michaelangelo :lol:


Well, I hope Michael at least returned the favor--as George Bernard Shaw was fond of saying: Beware of the man who does not return your blow.
:D


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 23:03 GMT 

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harmonica albert wrote:
I find it difficult to consider this song as any kind of masterpiece--what sort of mastery is on display? 3 chords anyone could play, simple verses with a repeated line that also serves as a chorus. It is an effective song in its cinematic moment, performed well. Is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star a masterpiece, or is Beethoven's Fifth Symphony? If they both are, what does the term "masterpiece" mean?

Anything that endures, maintains its appeal, and continues to captivate people over time? And let's not forget that what one person might call "mastery" another might call "hackery" and vice versa. If it reaches you, does it really matter how simple or complex it is? The value and stature of art lies in the reaction of the audience moreso than in the particular methods or technical skills of the artist, though obviously there is often a connection between the two.

Dylan has proven time and time again that a lot can be done with a little, if you do it right. IMO this song is as powerful and moving as any he's written, and it works just as well on its own as it does within the context of the film.


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 23:40 GMT 
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Mastery can certainly be expressed directly in simple terms, but mere endurance may not be a sign of a master at work. Cultural artifacts endure for many reasons independent of the originality of insight and command of expressive means. Vulgar appeal is sometimes one of the reasons. Dylan's work generally avoids that charge. I am not saying Knocking on Heaven's Door is a bad song (I think it is a well-crafted one), or that I don't like it (I do quite like it and borrowed from it for a song of my own). I'm just asking for internal evidence supporting the accolade, something beyond personal enthusiasm.

I've never heard a cover of the song I'd want to hear again, and most I wouldn't even want to hear once. Clapton's versions studio or live are pretty feeble. Guns & Roses' version is pointless and suffers from being sung by Axl. Roger McGuinn's version is inoffensive but hardly a highpoint of his work.

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.

Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

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.

Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

Two verses and a chorus that gets annoying fast in the wrong hands. The images are clear but hardly stunning or original, suited to the scene in the film, sung quite well by Dylan, but I'm guessing it took about as long to write as to sing, with about as much effort. I think the standard for "masterpiece" should be higher, much higher or else it is a meaningless judgement.


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 23:48 GMT 
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I really like Zevon's cover. Considering what he was going through at the time, it's quite the powerful performance. But yes, the original is indeed a masterpiece and a classic. In my top five favorite songs off all time. Simple, yes. But there's nothing wrong with that. The emotional power of the song is as strong as any I've ever heard. So powerful and overwhelming that the drummer on the song was actually weeping during the recording.


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 23:55 GMT 
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Thanks for that 1989 MIM, great version, very similiar to one I was going to post from NYC 1988 but the sound quality was too poor (obviously not the Stuck Inside of New York show).

The original has quite a mood about it...it takes a special performance to make this song work for me as it doesn't hit me very hard as a song per se (compared to so many of Dylan's).


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PostPosted: Sun January 10th, 2010, 23:59 GMT 
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On of Dylan's most "perfect" songs. Nothing tops the original, but I really enjoy the powerful Unplugged performance.

There is a special place in hell for Axl Rose due to Guns 'n' Roses truly awful version.


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PostPosted: Mon January 11th, 2010, 00:11 GMT 
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There is something mysterious that was captured in the original performance that my rational brain cannot explain.


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PostPosted: Mon January 11th, 2010, 00:22 GMT 

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But which cover is worse: Guns n Roses or Avril Lavigne?

Two of the most awful covers of any song ever.


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PostPosted: Mon January 11th, 2010, 00:40 GMT 

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harmonica albert wrote:
Mastery can certainly be expressed directly in simple terms, but mere endurance may not be a sign of a master at work. Cultural artifacts endure for many reasons independent of the originality of insight and command of expressive means. Vulgar appeal is sometimes one of the reasons. Dylan's work generally avoids that charge. I am not saying Knocking on Heaven's Door is a bad song (I think it is a well-crafted one), or that I don't like it (I do quite like it and borrowed from it for a song of my own). I'm just asking for internal evidence supporting the accolade, something beyond personal enthusiasm.

I've never heard a cover of the song I'd want to hear again, and most I wouldn't even want to hear once. Clapton's versions studio or live are pretty feeble. Guns & Roses' version is pointless and suffers from being sung by Axl. Roger McGuinn's version is inoffensive but hardly a highpoint of his work.

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.

Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

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.

Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door
Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door

Two verses and a chorus that gets annoying fast in the wrong hands. The images are clear but hardly stunning or original, suited to the scene in the film, sung quite well by Dylan, but I'm guessing it took about as long to write as to sing, with about as much effort. I think the standard for "masterpiece" should be higher, much higher or else it is a meaningless judgement.


Well, Al, I'm not sure that it is exactly well-crafted - in fact I agree with you that it sounds like it has hardly been crafted at all - "took about as long to write as to sing".
But what could be a clumsy image, of knocking on Heaven's door, is transformed into a marvelously emotionally complete statement. And it's transformed with that simple rhythmic trick of replicating the sound of someone knocking - and it should be tacky - knock knock who's there? - but it's not. It works. If it is a masterpiece then it is because that chorus displays what you called "a command of expressive means" - the modest, maybe futile, human gesture, expressing quite a grand hope for salvation. It really should not work - it should be ridiculous, but instead when sung by Dylan for that film it's sublime.


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PostPosted: Mon January 11th, 2010, 04:02 GMT 
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Not to get too picky but I don't think the phrase "knockin' on heaven's door" is meant to be an image. It is not meant to evoke an image in us of somebody going up to heaven and knocking on the door. I think it s just meant as a figure of speech, a better one than it's literal meaning.

So when he says: "I feel like I'm knockin' on heaven's door"

What he means is: "I feel like I'm just about dead"

But that would not work out so good in the chorus. You would have:

Just, Just, Just, Just about dead
Just, Just, Just, Just about dead
Just, Just, Just, Just about dead
Just, Just, Just, Just about dead

And not even Bob Dylan could make that sound sublime.
:)


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PostPosted: Mon January 11th, 2010, 06:03 GMT 
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John B. Stetson wrote:
There is something mysterious that was captured in the original performance that my rational brain cannot explain.

Agreed. One of those songs where Bob realizes his aim to make time stand still (he said something along those lines somewhere; anybody remember where?). I think it has to do with the background singing. At least for me the magic is carried over into Gabrielle's "Rise", on which it is used as a loop and elevates a pretty inane song into something quite moving.

I also like the Live 1975 version a lot, and the cover on "Garcia Plays Dylan" is fantastic.


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PostPosted: Mon January 11th, 2010, 07:18 GMT 

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Lots of great things contributed here for this here Track Talk, one of my own personal favorites of Bob's, even though it may not be called a 'masterpiece', whatever that may mean.
Some thoughts and addendums I completely agree with:

mumbles wrote:
The studio version from PG&BK is the one for me. Feels like a prayer should feel: a desperate, humble request for redemption.


The scene where the song is introduced in that film is among one of the most moving things I've seen in cinema. Every time I watch it I catch my breath and get choked up. The song provides the perfect mood for that film, IMO Peckinpah's finest, most fully realized work (the director's cut). It's amazing to think that Bob may not have been a part of the movie or its sountrack because they are so entwined in my mind. The movie is very much about death, both the death of an American way of life that had created it as well as the death of the people and legends that formed it. What is so moving about Sam's work and characters are the way they all are fully prepared for death on its own terms and forge ahead despite their fears. No song captures that like this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fMJfv5N ... re=related

For myself, if I never heard it again beyond this movie, it's already a song that is timeless for that scene.

Mighty monkey,
thanks for that 89 version. Truly incredible. I've always found 89 to be an underrated year due to the many gems littered throughout despite his erratic output. That, my friend, is one if those. Very powerful rendition.

And this:

The Mighty Monkey Of Mim wrote:
Anything that endures, maintains its appeal, and continues to captivate people over time? And let's not forget that what one person might call "mastery" another might call "hackery" and vice versa. If it reaches you, does it really matter how simple or complex it is? The value and stature of art lies in the reaction of the audience moreso than in the particular methods or technical skills of the artist, though obviously there is often a connection between the two.

Dylan has proven time and time again that a lot can be done with a little, if you do it right. IMO this song is as powerful and moving as any he's written, and it works just as well on its own as it does within the context of the film.


That is one of the most articulate 'explanations' of Bob's endurance and appeal that I've read. Or at least a viewpoint I am in complete agreement with. Bravo. Very well said.

I do love many from the NET, many mentioned here.
But I must throw my vote out for the first one I (or anyone) heard live which was from Before The Flood. It's perhaps the best song to come out of that tour. The vocal harmony with Richard, Robbie's gorgeous playing, and Bob's deeply resonant vocals all provided a rich catharsis equaling the studio version for me. Where the album version is moody and understated, 1974 is powerful & overwhelming. Yet both achieve so much.
Though when I finally got into the boots, I realized the LA shows were not my favorite from the tour. For me that would have to go to Boston. Everything clicks here and Garth's monstrous organ puts that lump in my throat and chills on my skin every time.

January 14 1974
http://www.sendspace.com/file/p6fwwr

Finally,

Mr. Tambourine Man wrote:
I really like Zevon's cover. Considering what he was going through at the time, it's quite the powerful performance.


Absolutely, one of his most delicately sung songs and a gorgeous final offering from one of the best ever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKHFWpaTUmY


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PostPosted: Mon January 11th, 2010, 09:43 GMT 

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carnap wrote:
Not to get too picky but I don't think the phrase "knockin' on heaven's door" is meant to be an image. It is not meant to evoke an image in us of somebody going up to heaven and knocking on the door. I think it s just meant as a figure of speech, a better one than it's literal meaning.

So when he says: "I feel like I'm knockin' on heaven's door"

What he means is: "I feel like I'm just about dead"

But that would not work out so good in the chorus. You would have:

Just, Just, Just, Just about dead
Just, Just, Just, Just about dead
Just, Just, Just, Just about dead
Just, Just, Just, Just about dead

And not even Bob Dylan could make that sound sublime.
:)

But of course he wouldn't say Just, Just, Just, Just about dead - because when he sings Knock-knock-knockin' on Heaven's door, he's clearly imitating a knock! That's where that rhythm comes from! - that's what I mean about his genius here - knockin' on Heaven's door would be quite a broad sort of wishy washy statement - but he makes it personal by imitating the literal knocking on a door.


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