How to Play Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

If you want to learn how to play Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, this video should help. This simple and effective song is one of Bob Dylan’s most well-known tunes and is perfect for beginning guitarists to practice basic open chords. It’s also a lesson for songwriters everywhere in how to write an incredibly simple song that still manages to resonate with millions of people.

I will say that, like many great songs, this song has been a victim of its own success, having been over-played on classic rock radio for decades. And I also cringe a little when I think of the (very popular) version that Guns and Roses did in the late 80s. I was a big fan of their first album and a few tracks from later albums but their overdone, anthemic version of this song still rings in my ears. If I never hear Axl sing “hey…hey…hey hey yeah…” again, I’ll be just fine.

ANYWAY… about the song. It’s about as simple as an acoustic folk/rock song can get. If you are a total beginner and are not sure how to play the chords, check out my lessons on how to play the GDC, and A minor chords.

Good luck with this song and let me know if you have questions.

2 thoughts on “How to Play Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”

  1. Nice voice. Agree that the four chords are beginner-plus level. Strumming may be intermediate. As we improve our skill level, our expression and dynamics are what makes a song more interesting, in my opinion. I originally learned that playing piano, and now as an intermediate player on guitar, even more so.

    • Thank you, and you’re absolutely right: the expressive quality of a performance is key to making a song “work,” especially when it comes to relatively simple songs.


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