Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door | “Knockin” by MJ Lenderman

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door | “Knockin” by MJ Lenderman

MJ Lenderman came out of nowhere and took my ears by complete surprise. In fact, he exposed me to an interesting new genre and sound: indie twang. Lenderman creates slow, indie-fueled rock songs and ballads with elements of country twang that are just the right combination of styles. This just works. I am not a big country music fan whatsoever, but this style caught my attention immediately. Modern country music carries heavy elements of hard rock, but this style of indie rock with just a hint of twang is something I needed to hear sooner. 

Lenderman’s new single, “Knockin,” is a perfect example of his particular style in an ever-refined manner, and it is a perfect example of this hybrid genre. The song begins with a slow, warbly voice that is heavy with emotion. A fuzzed-out guitar quickly accompanies his vocals to catapult us into the song. I felt myself fully immersed in this track not even 20 seconds after I began listening. The song structure is also perfect in my opinion, a slow buildup into a crashing chorus that I found myself bopping my head to.

The best part of Lenderman’s catalog is the immersive aspect of all of his songs: He strives for creativity and holds a wide range of sounds. There are songs that arguably touch into the twangy lofi sound, being perfect for studying. Some I could listen to while mowing the lawn. However, “Knockin” is an example of the latter — something I can dance to while doing yard work.

The lyrics go like this:

We saw John Daly sing Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door /

Bird calls comin’ from the rafters at the hardware store /

They took my drivers license /

But you still have yours /

You’re all I need, babe /

Yeah, you’ve heard that one before.”

Poor Lenderman, I think he might be a little heartbroken. Seriously heartbroken. Take the outro for example, and you’ll really believe me: 

And I think /

I might be knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock /

Knockin’ on Heaven’s door tonight /

Knock, knock, knock, knock /

Knock, knock, knock, knock, knockin.” 

While I love almost every aspect of this song, the raw and pure emotion that can be felt within his voice is the best part. I rarely hold this opinion, because I am usually primarily focused on the instrumental aspects of songs and mostly the guitars, but this time I simply could not tune his voice out. That is not to say the instrumental aspect was not jaw-dropping: The frequent instrumental breaks and small solos helped me stay with the song and feel the music. 

In all, if you’re looking for something that has a fusion of indie and twang, something to fuel yard work or even something to listen to while you lay on the ground and stare at the ceiling, just pop on this track or any of Lenderman’s extended catalog. I have yet to find something I don’t like.

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About the Contributor
Ian Randall, Writer
Ian Randall (He/Him) is an advertising management major at Michigan State. In his free time, he can be found bent over his guitar or playing Red Dead Redemption II. His favorite films are Top Gun and Napoleon Dynamite, and he frequently listens to Megadeth, Smashing Pumpkins, Van Halen and Tame Impala.  “A tout le monde, a tout mes amis, je vous aime, je dois partir.” - Megadeth

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