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Great Artists Pay Tribute to Their Favorite Bob Dylan Songs

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"Masters of War" (The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, 1963)
By Lucinda Williams

"Masters of War" is the best anti-war song ever written. It's so honest. That song, for me, set the standard as far as protest songs go. It's a really angry one, and I'm a really angry, outspoken anti-war person. "You that hide behind walls, you that hide behind desks/I just want you to know I can see through your masks" – it's a very effective song.

I still love to perform "Masters of War." I sang it right after 9/11, and I pissed some people off. Everyone was running around waving the flag, and they didn't understand what the song was about. They felt it was an insult. A friend of mine was in the audience at one of the shows, and someone stood up and said, "She shouldn't be doing this song." Then I got a letter from a fan who thought it was anti-American. It really surprised me. We need songs like this. It's the only song I can think of that deals with the guys behind the desk, the military-industrial complex – which we all know is happening. Nothing's changed. It's still the same story, with different names.

The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time: Bob Dylan

"Not Dark Yet" (Time Out of Mind, 1997)
By Marcus Mumford

"I Was Young When I Left Home" is my favorite Dylan song of all time. But of his later stuff, "Not Dark Yet" is the one I really love. It's quite a reflective song about when the shit hits the fan: "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." He's just the most extraordinary songwriter. You can always recognize the emotions in the lyrics that he writes, but they're never obvious – the feelings are identifiable, but not cliché. And he's got so much stamina as a songwriter. He just keeps going, keeps churning out these amazing songs. That's how you do it, man. If you want someone to be your hero as a musician, I don't think there's anyone better than him.

Next: Sinéad O'Connor and Dave Stewart

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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