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Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

4.6 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 24, 1989
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  • Bob Dylan: "Johnny Cash's voice was so big, it made the world grow small... When I first heard 'I Walk the Line' so many years earlier, it sounded like a voice calling out 'What are you doing there, boy?' I was trying to keep my eyes wide opened, too." Read more musical excerpts from Chronicles, Vol. 1 on our Music You Should Hear page.


Editorial Reviews

Out of print in the U.S.! Bob Dylan's mostly instrumental soundtrack to the surreal Western from director Sam Peckinpah. Of the few vocal tracks on the album, the stunning now-classic (and often covered) 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' made it's debut on this release. 10 tracks. Sony.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Main Title Theme (Billy)
  2. Cantina Theme (Workin' For The Law)
  3. Billy I
  4. Bunkhouse Theme
  5. River Theme
  6. Turkey Chase
  7. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
  8. Final Theme
  9. Billy 4
  10. Billy 7


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 24, 1989)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B000002518
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,191 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 10, 2000
Format: Audio CD
The reknown southwestern writer, C.L. Sonnichsen, opens his book, "Tulerosa", with the venable paragraph: "The Tulerosa country is a parched desert where everything, from cactus to cowman, carries a weapon of some sort, and the only creatures who sleep with both eyes closed are dead."
The Dylan soundtrack album, "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid", embodies the soul of this region of New Mexico where both men from the title lived, and died. I don't know if Bob Dylan ever came here to do any type of research, to absorb the essence of our people, but even if not, he captured it in the music played in this album. Billy was many things to many people. Essentially, he was a bright, loyal young man who loved the "gente" of New Mexico. My maternal ancestors scratched out an existance in the Pecos River valley of Puerta de Luna near Ft. Sumner where Billy was slain by Pat Garrett. Dylan's music became a regular play item in my cassette deck as I trudged the back roads of this area in my Jeep CJ in the 70's and 80's. It became popular, too, with many other hispanics who have listened to it. I don't know how many copies were made at request of "viejos" who also detected the spirit of that time period.
If you are looking for Dylan who has tapped into yet another reservoir of the human quintessence, listen to this album...listen to the melody and the words.
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Format: Audio CD
Bob Dylan gathered together a cracker jack group of musicians to record this excellent soundtrack, a romantic and mythic ode to a west that could only have existed in a collaboration between two artists walking the desperate line between sentimentality and mourning.
Sam Peckinpah when making the deeply flawed but often beautiful companion film, tottered on the abyss. The film may have marked his falling off the precipice, but Bob Dylan's brilliant fusing of folk, country and western and rock provided a sonic union rarely found in soundtracks. This album serves as a funeral dirge not only for the mythic Billy The Kid, but for Sam Peckinpah also. In fact, Dylan's score makes the film work far better that it perhaps deserves to.
Granted, like the film it echoes, this album does often sound redundant. But when it hits as it does with the brilliant opening theme "Billy" (Wes Anderson resurrects it most magnificently in "Royal Tennenbaums") and of course the classic "Knocking On Heaven's Door". Dylan even pulls off a comical Kris Kristofferson impersonation in one cut. Much of this album contains arguably some of Dlyan's finest instrumental and acoustic work. The sheer sound of the music evokes strong images of southwestern sunsets and small rivers rolling lazily by sandy dunes. It evokes images of time passing and figures holding passionately to the ephemeral. To quote the film:
"It feels like times have changed"
"Times maybe. . . but not me."
Like Ry Cooder's equally excellent score for "The Long Riders", Dylan transcended time and space and created a great album that made a film work.
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By A Customer on December 14, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Odd how many of the collection-fillers purchased recently have been from the mid-1970's. One thing about really good music is that it is not tied tightly to a particular time. My vinyl record (remember those?) is one big scratch at this point, so it was time for a CD.
Peckinpah's film is infamous in its own way for showing up at different theaters in different versions - quite literally edited with different scenes in different places. Now this has settled to a director's cut (103 minutes with everything in the order Sam Peckinpah wanted), a chopped and sanitzed version for broadcast, and the random versions still floating around of alternative cuttings. So it was left to Bob Dylan, along with Byron Berline and Sundance, to provide a consistent and thematic assurance to the audiences of varying versions. In Berline's "Turkey Run", the music tells you the gang is racing around on horses, chasing wild turkeys. In the hit "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" one knows there is a noble death impending; on the screen this understated scene is amplified mightily in emotional impact by Dylan's song. Even the recurrent simple guitar riffs are pleasant.
This is also one of the great rush-hour albums. Pop it on during that horrendous hour-long commute on the 405, and spend the time on a dusty ranch in the Old West; the gritty and realistic old West as portrayed in the film. Good schtuff!
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Format: Audio CD
Most people see Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid as nothing more than a really long super-maxi-single for "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" with several unnecessary re-mixes of the B-Side, "Billy". While it's hard to argue that there are any other songs on this album (or any other album by Dylan or not) as good as "Knockin'", if you're only interested in Bob for his words you're going to miss a whole lot here. It is easily Bob's most instrumental heavy album (and since it's really a soundtrack, that's too be expected). Most people can't even really tell these songlets apart. Which means they miss all the fun goofy humor in the banjo-laden "Turkey Chase" (my second favorite song on the album). And of the songs that do have words, you get three different vocal versions of "Billy" (numbered 1, 4 and 7 for some reason) as well as another instrumental. Sure, all three offer up pretty close to identical lyrics - all which are little more than dumbed-down Cliff's Notes versions of the plot of the movie. Musically they do each convey a subtly different mood. Okay, "Billy" is not a particularly great song, but despite its reputation as an all-time classic, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" actually is. And regardless of Eric Clapton or Axl Rose's attempts to steal this song, the Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid version remains the definitive one. Sure, this album is a lost great classic, but it's certainly worth more than just that one song.
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