Dylancover du jour: Masters Of War

Volgens Pete Seeger de beste ‘politieke’ song ooit geschreven. Het is eigenlijk geen ‘anti-oorlogssong’, althans niet in Dylan’s eigen ogen: “It’s not an antiwar song. It’s speaking against what Eisenhower was calling a military-industrial complex as he was making his exit from the presidency. That spirit was in the air, and I picked it up”

Dylan keert zich specifiek tegen degenen die geld verdienen aan oorlogen (dwz: aan de dood van andere mensen) en om die reden zelfs bewust conflicten creëren. Hij verwijst naar de afscheidsrede van de (rechtse) Amerikaanse president Dwight D. Eisenhower. In die toespraak suggereerde Eisenhower dat de Koude Oorlog deels in gang werd gezet door belangengroepen die er een leuk centje aan verdienden: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex”. 

De song dateert uit 1963, toen Dylan volop betrokken was bij de vredes- en burgerrechtenbeweging in de VS. Het is de enige song waarin hij ooit iemand dood heeft gewenst: And I hope that you die/And your death will come soon/I will follow your casket/By the pale afternoon. 

Een heel legioen artiesten heeft deze song gecoverd. Dit is in mijn ogen de mooiste, beter zelfs dan die van the man himself.

[Verse 1]
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

[Verse 2]
You that never done nothing
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

[Verse 3]
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

[Verse 4]
You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
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

[Verse 5]
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

[Verse 6]
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

[Verse 7]
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

[Verse 8]
And I hope that you die
And your death will 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 over your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead

Uitgelichte afbeelding: By Rowland Scherman – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=149559