Masters of War

[Bob Dylan, author and artist of incisive musical poetry of the people’s sentiments and struggles for justice in the 1960’s, sharply described and condemned the horrific wars of the system in this song, Masters of War, performed in 1963.  An enduring expression of outrage and anger at the suffering of billions of people, it is all the more timely on this Armistice Day/Memorial Day, which the “masters of war” continually make into a glorification of their blood-soaked rule and wars of conquest — but which the people remember as the most hideous and callous destruction of generation after generation — since the 1914 beginning of the inter-imperialist World War I, touted falsely as “the war to end wars.”  Dylan himself has not always adhered to the clear vision and passionate advocacy of this song and others of that early period, but that does not diminish the timeless voice he has given to the struggle for justice and peace. — Frontlines ed.]

“Masters Of War”

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.

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“George Jackson” — a song by Bob Dylan, 1971

40 years ago, George Jackson was killed by prison guards in San Quentin Prison.  Bob Dylan wrote this song, upon hearing the news.

George Jackson

I woke up this mornin’
There were tears in my bed
They killed a man I really loved
Shot him through the head
Lord, Lord
They cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord
They laid him in the ground

Sent him off to prison
For a seventy-dollar robbery
Closed the door behind him
And they threw away the key
Lord, Lord
They cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord
They laid him in the ground

He wouldn’t take shit from no one
He wouldn’t bow down or kneel
Authorities, they hated him
Because he was just too real
Lord, Lord
They cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord
They laid him in the ground

Prison guards, they cursed him
As they watched him from above
But they were frightened of his power
They were scared of his love.
Lord, Lord,
So they cut George Jackson down.
Lord, Lord,
They laid him in the ground.

Sometimes I think this whole world
Is one big prison yard
Some of us are prisoners
The rest of us are guards
Lord, Lord
They cut George Jackson down
Lord, Lord
They laid him in the ground

Copyright © 1971 by Ram’s Horn Music; renewed 1999 by Ram’s Horn Music