Rare footage of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds covering of Bob Dylan song ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ in 1984
In November 1984, just a few months after Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds released their debut album From Her to Eternity on Mute records, the newly-formed and newly-serious band headed out on tour.
No longer did the unmanageable chaos of The Birthday Party rule their live performances, Nick Cave and his new bandmates had developed into a group of musicians who were maturing at a faster rate than their material and it was time to make a change. “Well, I guess we weren’t kicking people in the teeth anymore,” Cave said when asked about the change in approach from his previous band. “I mean, it just became different.”
Cave, who has never been shy to credit those in the band who have had a major impact on its direction, added: “I wanted it to be more lyrically orientated and getting Blixa Bargeld from Einstürzende Neubauten in the group made an incredible difference. He’s a completely kind of atmospheric guitarist and incredibly economical and it gave me room to breathe.”
Ferocious tracks like ‘Nick The Stripper’ had been replaced by songs such as ‘From Her to Eternity’ and ‘Saint Huck’, vast and atmospheric numbers which displayed a whole new level of vocal range from this punk in transition. From Her to Eternity successfully built the foundations for the Bad Seeds to grow from but on that first tour in 1984, a time when Cave’s fans still had The Birthday Party fresh in their minds, the new direction would come as a real eye-opener—especially when he rolled out a surprise cover version of Bob Dylan.
The song, originally written and recorded by Dylan in 1973 for the soundtrack of the film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, signified yet more international fame for the musician and the track skyrocketed up the charts across the globe. ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’, famously, has been covered by countless artists from the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Eric Clapton, Randy Crawford and, of course, the Bad Seeds.
After a ten-track setlist, while performing at the 666 Club in Barcelona, Spain, The Bad Seeds slowed things down to a pace which was new ground for the band. For the final song of the performance, Cave picked up his microphone, sang a little acapella while a man in the crowd yells “get on with it, come on, fucking hell!” and Bargeld’s wailing guitar breaks into a rendition of ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’.