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 G, D, C, 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”
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.