Bob Dylan emerged onto the New York folk scene like a man who had stepped out of America’s past, his voice deeply weather-worn and timeless.
In other words, he was perfect casting material for a Western.
And it was Sam Peckinpah who eventually cast him into the Wild West, in his 1973 production of ‘Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid’.
Dylan shared screen time with James Coburn as Pat, and Kris Kristofferson as Billy.
Dylan’s voice, however, did not appear centre-stage. His character, Alias, a supporter of Billy, said barely anything.
And the film did not fare much better – Peckinpah and the studio would eventually fall out, and in fact Peckinpah washed his hands of the final film.
It was edited radically by the studio. To no avail.
The critics and the public were not kind – the film bombed on all fronts.
Nevertheless, as well as contributing a largely instrumental music score, Dylan brought to the production what is now regarded as an bonafide classic – ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’.
The song that has gone on to assume huge significance – yet, in the film, it merely accompanies the death of a minor gunfighter.