Trouble singing Dylan’s Knocking on Heavens Door

I’m at the end of grade 1. I’m able to play and sing with Stand by Me, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Brown Eye Girl and a few others. However although I can play Knocking on Heaven’s Door from start to finish pretty well, for the life of me I can’t sing it. I get mixed up, don’t know where to sing the words and I seem to be unable to match the chords with the vocals. Any suggestions

Don’t beat your self up all in good time and practice you will get it . Keep on trying and practicing and it will get there.

Also slow it down and break it up in sections

You might be having a problem because the words actually start a little after the first beat. And then they slide into the next bar. So, the phrase you are singing is actually offset from the bars.

Try this. Forget the guitar and use a metronome. Then sing to a beat…

one - mama take this badge off of me - two - three - four
one - I can’t use it any more - two - three - four

Sing the numbers as well. Been a while since I heard the song but I think that’s how it goes. Might help.

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Can you sing along to the original track? I’m not very familiar with the lesson and knowing Dylan he might take a few timing liberties, but it might help get the feel for it. If you can’t make the chord changes at the recorded BPM, then you could slow it down with my favourite tool (, or not strum and just roughly make the changes with your fretting hand.

I have the same problem with Wonderwall. I go back to it every few months and have another go, but no matter how often I listen to the record, or how often I play it, I just can’t nail the timing in the chorus. That said, I’m going to try it using @mathsjunky Paul’s suggestion. My favourite slower-downer is the “Transpose” extension for Chrome

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I’ve not looked at ‘Transpose’. I like as I can both slow down and loop a section of a youtube video - it’s a godsend for transcribing!

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Hi Howard. Bob Dylan is notorious for playing fast and loose with his lyric phrasing and timing. This is especially true when he’s playing live.
My advice is to listen to the original studio version from the Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid album. Listen to it a load of times, play along with it. You’ll get it with a bit of practise.

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You have great advice here …
On the top line of music that squiggly symbol is a quarter note rest.
On the bottom line is the G chord. The G chord gets played on the count of 1 but the singing allows a quarter beat to elapse before it starts with the very first note, the syllable ‘Ma-’.


Counting and singing as @oztelemann suggests here is really good advice.


I’d have a look at Transpose - it does what does without having to copy & paste, plus you can transpose any youtube video to any key

Don’t be disheartened! There is actually a lesson I just watched in Grade 3 called “Singing and playing at the same time”, where Justin gives a lot of tips on this exact topic. You could watch this if you like (if you really want to nail it I recommend it - he gives 10 practice steps that just might solve your problem with enough time), but I think this means that this is a skill that Justin wouldn’t expect from a beginner to get hold of much sooner.

Thanks Ian - I shall check that out!

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Wow thanks for all the great recommendations here you guys are very thoughtful and helpful