October 28, 2011

Bob Dylan - Masters of War (1963)

One of the most influential figures in the history of popular music, this reluctant “voice of a generation” started by writing folk music centered on US civil rights and anti-war themes. His music has evolved numerous times over the past fifty years and has incorporated folk, rock, blues, country, gospel, and much more. He was a large influence on The Beatles, specifically John Lennon, and later helped create the supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys, with George Harrison. This is an artist who cannot be summed up in the space provided here.

This song comes from 1963, a time before he electrified his music and was still writing folk songs for social change. The music is based on the English folk song "Nottamun Town". Though not as popular as “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” this song, in a darker sense, fits to the same lyrical theme. Of the lyrics, he said he had never written about hoping anyone dead before, but he felt he “couldn’t help it with this one.”

[Note: this probably isn't the type of song you can play as “background music” and be entertained. Its strong point is its message/lyrics and is suggested to be listened to as if hearing a speech. Enjoy!]

Bob Dylan - Masters of War

Bob Dylan - Masters of War (1963)

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Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
And then you set back and watch
While the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
While the young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn?
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness?
Do you think that it could?
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death will come soon
I’ll follow your casket
On the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand over your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead


  1. The early Dylan was best enjoyed if you were growing up in the 60's

    1. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't even alive yet. All I have to go by is movies, television, history books, and my imagination. I'll bet it was something. Were you around? What was it like?