Bob Dylan: 5 Great Live Versions of “Gates of Eden”

Of war and peace the truth just twists
Its curfew gull just glides
Upon four-legged forest clouds
The cowboy angel rides
With his candle lit into the sun
Though its glow is waxed in black
All except when ’neath the trees of Eden

..Only at the start of the Never Ending Tour, partnering an equally electric “My Back Pages” with an arrange- ment of heart-stopping intensity, would “Gates of Eden” come back into its own. Disappointingly, this dramatic reinterpretation was dropped after just a handful of performances. Thankfully, in the spring of 1995, it returned to join “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” in laser-precise acoustic sets that acted as a crash course in the compositional quantum leap achieved three decades prior.
-Clinton Heylin (Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973)


  • 115 times acoustic w/ band – top year 1990 (28 times)
  • 85 times acoustic – top year – top year 1989 (27 times)
  • 8 times w/band in 1988 (8 times)

First known performance: Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts – 24 October 1964

Last known performance: Kingsford Smith Park, Seagulls Rugby League Football Club, Ballina, New South Wales, Australia – 31 March 2001

Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, California
3 September 1965

he lamppost stands with folded arms
Its iron claws attached
To curbs ’neath holes where babies wail
Though it shadows metal badge
All and all can only fall
With a crashing but meaningless blow
No sound ever comes from the Gates of Eden

The savage soldier sticks his head in sand
And then complains
Unto the shoeless hunter who’s gone deaf
But still remains
Upon the beach where hound dogs bay
At ships with tattooed sails
Heading for the Gates of Eden

Blackbushe Aerodrome
Camberley, England
15 July 1978

With a time-rusted compass blade
Aladdin and his lamp
Sits with Utopian hermit monks
Sidesaddle on the Golden Calf
And on their promises of paradise
You will not hear a laugh
All except inside the Gates of Eden

Relationships of ownership
They whisper in the wings
To those condemned to act accordingly
And wait for succeeding kings
And I try to harmonize with songs
The lonesome sparrow sings
There are no kings inside the Gates of Eden

Greek Theatre
University Of California
Berkeley, California
10 June 1988

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • G. E. Smith (guitar)
  • Kenny Aaronson (bass)
  • Christopher Parker (drums)
  • Neil Young (guitar)

The motorcycle black madonna
Two-wheeled gypsy queen
And her silver-studded phantom cause
The gray flannel dwarf to scream
As he weeps to wicked birds of prey
Who pick up on his bread crumb sins
And there are no sins inside the Gates of Eden

The kingdoms of Experience
In the precious wind they rot
While paupers change possessions
Each one wishing for what the other has got
And the princess and the prince
Discuss what’s real and what is not
It doesn’t matter inside the Gates of Eden

Hammersmith Odeon
London, England
5 February 1990

The foreign sun, it squints upon
A bed that is never mine
As friends and other strangers
From their fates try to resign
Leaving men wholly, totally free
To do anything they wish to do but die
And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden

At dawn my lover comes to me
And tells me of her dreams
With no attempts to shovel the glimpse
Into the ditch of what each one means
At times I think there are no words
But these to tell what’s true
And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden

Köln, Germany
11 May 2000

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Charlie Sexton (guitar)
  • Larry Campbell (guitar, mandolin, pedal steel guitar & electric slide guitar)
  • Tony Garnier (bass)
  • David Kemper (drums & percussion)

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2 thoughts on “Bob Dylan: 5 Great Live Versions of “Gates of Eden””

  1. Does anyone remember a UK TV Joan Baez broadcast in 196x when actor Keith Barron recited the words of Gates of Eden and Joanie hummed along behind the main voice. – okay looks strange in print, but I seem to remember that it worked. Didn’t have a Phillips 3302 to hand at the time so looking for memories. “mrshenry”

    1. A bit late, but yes, I remember it very clearly – 1965, I think, on the BBC – and I seem to remember a newspaper critic using it the following day to ‘prove’ that Dylan didn’t/couldn’t write poetry, in a kind of ‘it’s self evident’ way… I think it may have been on the same programme that Joan sang ‘Colours’ with Donovan…

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