In the spirit of the cover wars, I offer up probably Bob Dylan’s most politically charged song, “Masters of War.”

Dylan said this about the original in the liner notes of the album for which it appears, Freewheelin’: “I’ve never really written anything like that before. I don’t sing songs which hope people will die, but I couldn’t help it in this one. The song is a sort of striking out, a reaction to the last straw, a feeling of what can you do?”

In 1993, musicians ranging from Johnny Cash to Johnny Winter showed up at Madison Square Garden to pay their respects to Bobby Dylan. There on a stage with only two chairs and a few mics, Pearl Jam members Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready took on Dylan’s anti-war song. Regardless of the outcome of this cover war, it’s a shame that the President doesn’t have at least one of these downloaded to his iPod.

MP3: Bob Dylan – Masters of War
MP3: Eddie Vedder/Mike McCready – Masters of War

Side note: The concert also hosted one of the most memorable moments in music when Sinead O’Connor got booed off the stage. After quickly throwing up backstage, O’Connor returned to the sea of boos and sang, acapella, the same Bob Marley song, “War,” she performed a few days earlier on SNL. That was right before ripping up a photo of the Pope.

That night at the Dylan event, Kris Kristofferson was one of the few people who publicily stood up for her. His barely audible words, “to not let the bastards get to you,” were a highlight of the night. He later wrote a song about her/the night, “Sister Sinead.”

Later that night offstage, Dylan came up to O’Connor and said, “you should keep on doing what you’re doing.” O’Connor responded, “It’s no good saying it to me. You should have said that to them (referring the crowd).”

O’Connor’s set was left off the official 30th Anniversary release.

This “war” story speaks volumes when you think of it in its totality with the characters Dylan, Vedder, McCready, Kristofferson and O’Connor.


And good news for all, Satisfied ’75 will be back in the saddle on Monday. Thanks to him for letting me pitch hit.

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