What does Knockin' On Heaven's Door mean?

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Bob Dylan: Knockin' On Heaven's Door Meaning

Song Released: 1973


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Knockin' On Heaven's Door Lyrics

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,...

  1. alp
    click a star to vote
    Mar 29th 2013 report

    Badge, stands for any Cause, it may as well be political, religious, moral, etc; Guns: the means to get one´s message to be heard,accepted or yet imposed upon. In my opinion, Dylan writes,he feels like,he is knocking on heaven´s door, because he is in a state of confusion, things are not what they seemed in the beginning. The world is not black or white. To be knocking on heavens door, is to be before a far great dilemma.

  2. alp
    click a star to vote
    Mar 29th 2013 report

    Badge, stands for any Cause, it may as well be political, religious, moral, etc; Guns: the means to get one´s message to be heard,accepted or yet imposed upon. In my opinion, Dylan writes,he feels like,he is knocking on heaven´s door, because he is in a state of confusion, things are not what they seemed in the beginning. The world is not black or white. To be knocking on heavens door, is to be before a far great dilemma.

  3. anonymous
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    Mar 19th 2012 report

    For cripes sake folks. Watch the dang movie. The scene is the man is dying. He is not regretting anything, he is not giving up anything. He is dying. This is one of those that is so freaking obvious there is no room for "interpretation". It is plain to see.

  4. anonymous
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    Jan 23rd 2012 report

    I think everyone is thinking too much! If you are a gangster, a lawyer, a top businesman, a soldier, nurse, whatever, its about just saying i've moved on and want to be me!Take this badge of of me (i'm not anymore as fashion or perception dictates, i'm me), i want to be me!! Lose the marketing, pre-conceptions, i'm just me! I had a day, well evening when driving home to a stable life for the first time that,i just wanted to be me and lose my past and what reputation i had to live up to). Jesus, as Bob Dylan, he must've had more pressure than most! Its just a cry to be 'me'! Genius!

  5. anonymous
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    Aug 15th 2011 report

    A song about dying, being a lawman and it just plain sucks to have wasted your life surrounded by so much death. Anything else is just plain specualtion and BS.

  6. anonymous
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    May 26th 2011 report

    It would be ridiculous for me to try to interpret Bob's mind, I change how I interpret my actions day by day. Having said that I think that Bob is one of the great artists of the 20 th century. I interpret it as Slim Pickens is bound by 'duty' to repay his debt to Pat Garret, he knows he is going to die and does. We all have a reason for living, if life is worthwhile. Slim has kept alive and it has been a worthwhile life because of his duty, whether to the law, Pat, or his wife. He doesn't want to die but life without satisfying his obligation is a meaningless life. Why? Because someone or something else has given him a reason for living, again is it his family, the law, Pat, his wife. We all have a greater purpose if we have a purposeful life. I read it as 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' as it represents the belief that I have in the debt that I have to God for giving his Son to show me the way. Sometime I will have to honor that debt. I hope I can be as strong as Slim was in the movie. When he put the guns in the ground, he looked satisfied.

  7. anonymous
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    Apr 13th 2011 report

    Get a grip.
    Dylan wasnt preferred songwriter choice for the film.
    He wrote this overnight and it blew Peckinpah away.
    Interpret?It verges on the bleeding obvious.

  8. anonymous
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    Dec 7th 2010 report

    This song is on the soundtrack for the Pat Garret and Billy the Kids movie. It is the start of a more realistic view of the west. It also takes another look at how the sheriffs are always classified as that good guy and outlaw as the bad guy and makes you rethink that perception.

  9. anonymous
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    Jun 16th 2009 report

    A person who wears a badge to do their duty ( a sherrif possibly, soldier..not likely) has been injured and feels like they will die.
    They obviously killed in the name of good, because the person expects to go to heaven.
    The person knows the end is near and will not be able to continue to kill the "bad guys" any longer..
    This song is about a killer being humbled at the prospect of his own death. He has lived according to his upbringing and beliefs (mother and heaven)

  10. anonymous
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    Nov 6th 2008 report

    The song is from the movie Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, where Garrett a sheriff was rumoured to be an old friend of the gangster Billy the Kid. Garrett had to make a tough decision to choose his duty over his friendship. The song may perhaps arose in his heart at the moment when he had to shoot down his buddy.

    "Mama take this batch off me"
    "I can't use it anymore".
    by this lines Pat Garrett means he does'nt wanna be sheriff anymore if it's means to kill your friend for the sake of duty.

    "It's getting dark too dark to see"
    Feel like I m knocking on heaven's door".
    here Garrett is trying to denote that the conception of the good and the bad is getting hazy and unclear....and due to dis he's unable to conclude on which side he is or what he's doing is the right thing or not?
    As a result it seems he's been denied salvation and an entry into heaven for all the sins he's committed...dat's why he feels like knocking on heaven's door and waiting to be permitted in.........

    "Mama put my guns in the ground"
    "I can't shoot them anymore"............
    Garrett is seen here asking his mama(mother) to put his gun,his weapon of destruction,harmlessly in the ground because he doesn't want to take anymore lives.

    "That long black cloud is coming down"
    "I feel like I m knocking on heaven's door"
    here the long black cloud may have been regarded by Garrett as the elements from the heaven which is keeping a record of all the sins he is doing and it's coming down to question him about his deeds. Still, he's standing outside heaven's door,knocking and begging to be let in.

    The song simply deals with the concept of blindfolded thinking and the conflict within oneself when the person's conscience rises to make him realize the true meaning of his deeds.

  11. wellnoted
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    Oct 20th 2008 report

    A good version would be a soldier son faltering on his goals about being a soldier..his hands tremble to kill someone now..and he feels every time he's at war he's knocking on heavens door. His will to live has taken over and he no longer wishes to play with death.

    A typical version would be a son who wants to leave his gangster ways and stop killing for fun or money..he begs his mother to help him leave his crude past behind..(but then the badge throws me..m nt sure if gunmen or assasins hv badges..:)

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  12. anonymous
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    Oct 13th 2008 report

    Since the song if from Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, which Dylan had a small part, the song is about the death of the character played by Slim Pikens. Pikens get shot by Garrett and dies by a lake. In dying he drops to his knees and opens his arms, this is a reference to Jesus. Watch the movie and it will make sense.

  13. m320753
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    Oct 13th 2008 report

    This song along with romance in durango were writen while dylan was making pat garret and billy the kid. Starring kris kristoferson as the kid and james coburn as pat garret. It also had rita coolidge as a woman who loved billy or just a prostitute. bob dylan played the part of alias who in most of the shots he was in he just looked apon what had just happened and never said much. except when he was in a bar and trading post/general store and pat garret told him to go read the labels on the cans while he and billy talked. alias took this literally and he read the labels out loud after a few labels were read the camera turned back to garret but you could still hear dylan reading labels in a bored voice beans-- carrots beans---chicken soup and so on then you heard him say uum string beans. It was hilarious . antway that song was written for the movie and it has to deal with Billie the kid getting shot by pat garret

  14. mikeb
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    Oct 6th 2008 report

    I think the speaker is a wild west era lawman. He's disillusioned by the lawlessness that pervaded his time and place, and faces a violent death. Though he expects to die, he's reluctant to wait for it. It looms and he's afraid.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  15. anonymous
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    Mar 23rd 2008 report

    I believe this is a man at the end of his life. He realizes that he's too old to do most of the things he used to and is putting away his badge, his gun, and eventually his life.




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