26. "Masters of War" (1963)
"Masters of War" is Dylan's angriest protest song. His starting point seems to be the fears of nuclear holocaust – but characteristically, Dylan took that common theme and gave it a crucial twist. Where typical anti-war songs might indict politicians or generals, Dylan's target is the military-industrial complex itself: Greed drives the masters of war, not ideology. "Is your money that good?" Dylan spits out as he envisions a world awash in blood. "Will it buy you forgiveness?" The song ends with the singer calling out for the deaths of those bomb builders, promising to stand over their graves "till I'm sure that you're dead." "I don't sing songs which hope people will die," Dylan observed at the time. "But I couldn't help it with this one."