Sunday, August 28, 2005

Masters of War

"The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" was released in 1963. I was 6. My older brother, who went off to Viet Nam in 1966 and returned in one piece in 1967 was a big fan. I was a big fan of my brother. He played the guitar and turned me on to lots of good music. And, he bought me ice-cream from the Good Humor Man when my parents said "no."

I didn't really like Bob Dylan when I was still in the single digits, but I knew he must be good because my brother said he was. Today, I know he was right. He was the conscience and the reluctant spokesman of a generation, and still speaks volumes to me today through his classic records from 1962 to about 1966. I listen to his early records, and I marvel at the depth of his insight and wisdom at such a young age, and his ability to say it. His lyrics remain unequaled in the genre.

I have a distinct memory of my brother playing "Masters of War" for me, and talking to me about it. It was probably about 1965. I used to go into his room a lot to talk to him, and he always had music on. I knew it was Dylan. He told me that the song was about the bad men who make money from wars.

Bob Dylan spoke directly to an 8 year-old boy. I could see the old men in their suits sitting behind their desks and smoking their cigars, smiling, and sending boys off to die so they could get rich. I hated them. I could hear the anger and pain and the feeling of powerlessness in the music. It was chilling.

It still is.

Masters of War
by Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big 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 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
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 o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music


Sort of reminds me of these people.


Anonymous blue girl said...

"He was the conscience and the reluctant spokesman of a generation..."

Did you see the "60 Minutes" interview? It amazes me that he won't admit that he was the *voice* of a generation...he meant exactly that to so many.

Great post. Will your brother read it? Pretty special.

On another subject: Check out the comment on my "Turn, turn, turn" post from *Cali Dem.* -- Tell me if you like the song he/she left there...

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every once in a while I feel the urge to haul out the yellowing pages of my paperback Collected Poems of James Agee for this scathing and righteous excerpt from the Dedication to Permit Me Voyage:1934---

"To those men who, of all nations unhindered, to all nations faithless, make it their business to destroy concord and to incite war and to prolong it, for their profit in the commerce of armament: to those governors of nations who, in full knowledge of this, visit upon them neither punishment nor restriction nor disapproval, but are accomplices, exhorting and deceiving and compelling the men for whose good life they rule deliberately into death, and death's danger, and the shattering of flesh and spirit. Of these merchants and of these rulers may the loins thaw with a shrieking pain, and may there be slow nails in the skulls of each, and may lost winds of plague unspeakable alight like flies upon their flesh, here in this earth and by public arrangement, to the sweet entertainment of all men of good will: and in their death may the vengeance of God shock their flesh from their bones, and their bones off the air, and all that was of them be reduced to the quintessence of pain very eternal, from moment to moment more exquisite everlastingly, by a geometrical increase: unless by improbable miracle they repent themselves straightway and for good."

Now THAT's something that would do very nicely for Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush, and some others-- make your own list.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

Beautiful post, Viscount.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Simon said...

Once again, the combination of truth and music is a powerful thing. I don't understand how people can be unmoved by the things they listen to, unless they just listen to things like Crazy Frog.

Never gotten into Dylan. The back catalogue is too daunting to consider at this low income stage in my life. I'll get there one day. Mum was a big fan.

7:05 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

BG - I did see the "60 Minutes" interview and it was amazing.

Anon - come back anytime - nice quotation and comments.

All: thanks for reading and your words of encouragement.

7:28 AM  

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