Listen to Bob Dylan and Neil Young duet for the first time, 1975
(Credit: Wikimedia / Tore Sætre)

Listen back to Bob Dylan and Neil Young’s first live duet ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’, 1975

Before Neil Young and Bob Dylan co-headlined a huge show in 2018 their appearances together had been few and far between. This bootleg of the duo performing at their first show together in 1975 shows why it shouldn’t have taken so long.

That’s because during this performance, which sees Young and Dylan together for the very first time, not only includes one hell of a supergroup as a backing band but sees our duo singing an entirely unique version of ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’.

Before 2018 there were very few moments where Dylan and Young shared the same stage. They had been on the same bill on 2016’s Desert Daze but you’d have to go back to 1994 to find the last time they shared the stage, singing alongside the pair was Bruce Springsteen as the trio busted out versions of ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’ and ‘Highway 61 Revisited’.

When you consider that Young has often referred to Dylan as his greatest inspiration it’s a surprise it took so long, “He’s the master,” Young told Time in 2005. “If I’d like to be anyone, it’s him. And he’s a great writer, true to his music and done what he feels is the right thing to do for years and years and years. … The guy has written some of the greatest poetry and put it to music in a way that it touched me, and other people have done that, but not so consistently or as intensely.”

If you were to look back a little further to find some more Dylan & Young goodness then you’ll quickly come across this brilliant show from March 23rd, 1975. The two artists were both on the bill for Bill Graham’s Students Need Athletics, Culture and Kicks (SNACK) show at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

It was a pretty perfect line-up too, with Santana, Jefferson Starship, Joan Baez, the Grateful Dead, Tower of Power and Graham Central Station all on the bill alongside Young and Dylan. With this in mind, the pair decided to merge their two groups to form one Megatron backing band. It saw Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson of the Band join forces with Tim Drummond and Ben Keith from the Stray Gators.

The show was broadcast on K101-FM in San Francisco and as was customary in those days the show was instantly bootlegged. And we’re thankful they did, as now, we have this entirely unique version of ‘Helpless’ and ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’, which, for some inexplicable reason, the pair change to “Knockin’ On Dragon’s Door”, though we imagine it may have to do with their fumigation backstage.

Whatever the cause of the lyric change it makes for an engaging listen and one we will happily reply over and over again as we relish in this bootleg of Neil Young and Bob Dylan sharing the stage for the very first time.

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