14/10/16 – Bob Dylan – Masters Of War – 1963

Song Of The Day

bob-dylan-masters-of-wars-picIt’s wonderful to hear that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for literature and to celebrate this political week on the blog, here’s one of his earlier tunes, Masters Of War from his second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The album made it to No.22 in the US chart in 1963 and No.1 in the UK in 1964.

This From Wikipedia:

“A scathing song directed against the war industry, “Masters of War” is based on Jean Ritchie’s arrangement of “Nottamun Town”, an English riddle song. Written in late 1962 while Dylan was in London, eyewitnesses (including Martin Carthy and Anthea Joseph) recall Dylan performing the song in folk clubs at the time. Ritchie would later assert her claim on the song’s arrangement; according to one Dylan biography, the suit was settled when Ritchie received $5,000 from Dylan’s lawyers”.

And for budding record collectors:

“Some very early first pressing copies contained four songs that were ultimately replaced by Columbia on all subsequent pressings. These songs were “Rocks and Gravel”, “Let Me Die in My Footsteps,” “Gamblin’ Willie’s Dead Man’s Hand” and “Talkin’ John Birch Blues”. Copies of the “original” version of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (in both mono and stereo) are extremely rare”.

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
Then you sit back and watch
When 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’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
By the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead



Some different versions of the song here and including Jack Nicholson’s loving presentation of a lifetime achievement award from ‘The Academy’ in 1991, then there’s the performance and the rather unexpected gracious acceptance.





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