Thursday, April 7, 2016
Artist: Bob Dylan
Track: “Masters of War”
I’m going to cut straight to the chase – Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters of War’ is one of the best songs he’s ever penned throughout his illustrious and weathered career. Not because of musical innovation, but because it contains perhaps the most profound and venomous lyrics he’s ever conjured up. We all know Dylan could write great lyrics in his sleep during his prime, but the heavy subject matter that permeates ‘Masters of War’ is nearly unmatched by anything else he’s put to paper. Musically, it’s one of the most simplistic songs on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, but behind the repetitive strumming of the guitars, Dylan unleashes a poignant performance that honestly examines both war and greed. He doesn’t just examine these harsh themes, however, he calls out the offenders with a sarcastic delivery –you ain’t worth the blood that runs in your veins/even Jesus would never forgive what you do. It only gets better from there, as he belts out more powerful lines – is your money that good, will it buy you forgiveness, do you think that it could/I think you will find when you death takes its toll, all the money you made will never buy back your soul. Finally, he viciously damns the lovers of war and money — I hope that you die, and your death will come soon, I follow your casket by the pale afternoon/I’ll watch while you’re lowered down to your death bed/I’ll stand over your grave ‘til I’m sure that you’re dead.
Yes, I just spent half of the previous paragraph quoting lyrics, but there’s no overstating how chillingly effective Dylan’s lyrical approach is on ‘Masters of War.’ It’s a song that makes a compelling statement; one that remains as true today as it did back in Dylan’s heyday. Its politically-charged approach isn’t for everybody, but I’ll be damned if I don’t get chills down my spine every time I hear Dylan’s persuasive argument in this song. Apart from being a lyrical powerhouse, Dylan is able to match the gripping themes with one of the most authentic performances of his entire career. At the end of the day, it won’t put a smile of joy on your face, but it will certainly get your thoughts racing with a fierce kick-start to the brain
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