Vietnam Music Monday: “Masters of War”

Masters of War

“Masters of War” was released on May 27, 1963. (Newseum Collection)

Music played an important cultural role during the Vietnam War, representing the rebellious views of a young generation and the traditional values of an older, so-called “silent majority.” The Newseum selected 40 songs released between 1963 and 1973 that typified the music of the Vietnam era. The songs captured the emotions of people for and against the war and reflected the mood of an increasingly diverse country amid dramatic social and political change.

The 40 songs, part of the Newseum’s “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit that opens May 22, are a fraction of the hundreds of recordings that dealt with the war and civil disobedience. Each week, one song from the playlist will be featured. We encourage you to add your favorite songs of the era to the comment section!

Masters of War (1963)

Bob Dylan

“Masters of War” — a scathing critique of the U.S. military and the arms industry that supported it — set the tone for the emerging anti-war movement. The song appeared on folk singer Bob Dylan’s second album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” which established Dylan as a new force in folk music and featured a number of protest songs, including “Blowin’ in the Wind.”


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

Purchase “Masters of War” on Amazon or iTunes.

“Reporting Vietnam,” a new exhibit that marks the 50th anniversary of the start of America’s first televised war, explores the dramatic stories of how journalists brought news about the war to a divided nation.

CBS News

Contributing support for the “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit is provided by CBS Corporation, in memory of CBS News correspondent Bob Simon.

One thought on “Vietnam Music Monday: “Masters of War”

  1. While reading “The Arms of Krupp” I remembered reading a critic’s response to “Masters of War”, probably shortly after it was released, about it being a reprise of WWI views (or popular mythologies) of arms manufacturers (wording is mine – can’t remember the exact text.) Does anyone recall this critique and where it was published?

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