Bob Dylan: “Masters of War” (1963)

A cover of Bob Dylan’s 1963 song Masters of War, performed by Sam Bradley. Born Robert Zimmerman in Minnesota, Bob Dylan (1941-) was arguably the most important American songwriter of the 1960s. He wrote numerous songs pertaining to Cold War events and themes, protesting against military aggression and the nuclear threat. Masters of War is the angriest, most hostile song in Dylan’s expansive repertoire, a condemnation of the military build up of the early 1960s.

Come you masters of war – you that build all the 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 set back and watch when the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion as 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 in 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

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