The Best Dylan Covers: The Long Ryders – Masters of War


The Best Dylan Covers: The Long Ryders – Masters of War

Masters of War is a song by Bob Dylan, written over the winter of 1962–63 and released on the album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan first recorded Masters of War in January 1963 for Broadside magazine, which published the lyrics and music on the cover of its February issue. The song was also taped in the basement of Gerde’s Folk City in February and for Dylan’s music publisher, M. Witmark & Sons, in March. The Witmark version was included on The Bootleg Series Vol. 9 – The Witmark Demos: 1962–1964 in October 2010. The Freewheelin’ version was recorded on April 24, 1963, by Columbia Records; in addition to that album, it has also appeared on compilation albums such as Masterpieces in 1978 and Biograph in 1985.

The Long Ryders – Masters Of War:

The Long Ryders are an American alternative country and Paisley Underground band, principally active between 1983 and 1987, and who reformed in 2004 to do a reunion tour. They have only performed three times since 2004. I loved that movement in the mid 80s! They made me dive into the wonderful world of The Byrds and Gram Parsons.

I first heard their cover of Masters of War on a CD that came with Mojo in September 2005. I loved The Long Ryders version of Masters Of War instantly. They add their distinct sound and attitude to Dylan’s song, the anger and insistency is intact as well. I’m not sure of the recording date, but I’m guessing the 5×5 (unreleased EP) sessions are from around 1985 (please correct me if I’m wrong).


“…they not only covered the song but did a wonderful job as well. The song is a literate, concise statement against hypocrisy and the American war machine; it also has a beautifully dark melody underneath the litany of protests. With this in mind, it was probably an easy choice as a cover tune for the band during the frightening days of the Ronald Reagan administration. Originally an outtake from an unreleased EP, 5X5…”
– Matthew Greenwald (Allmusic)

It is also available on three compilation albums by The Long Ryders, Metallic B.O.(1989), Looking for Lewis and Clark: An Anthology (1998) and The Best of The Long Ryders (2004).

long ryders   mettallic BO   looking

The Long Ryders – Masters of War:

On The Long Riders’s Native Son Deluxe release from 1984/2011 there is a version of the song labeled as the first version:

Live version from Metallic B.O.:

Other entries in the series:
The Best Dylan covers: Stevie Wonder – Blowin’ in the wind
The Best Dylan Covers: George Harrison – If Not For You
The Best Dylan Covers: Emmylou Harris – Every Grain of Sand
The Best Dylan Covers: Them – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
The Best Dylan Covers: Joan Baez – Farewell Angelina
The Best Dylan Covers: Roger McGuinn – Up To Me
The Best Dylan Covers: Jeff Beck Group – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
The Best Dylan Covers: Susan Tedeschi – Lord Protect My Child
The Best Dylan Covers: Lucinda Williams – Tryin’ To Get To Heaven
The Best Dylan Covers: Jerry Garcia Band – Simple Twist of Faith
The Best Dylan Covers: Bruce Springsteen – All Along The WatchTower
The Best Dylan Covers: Patti Smith – Changing Of The Guards
The Best Dylan Covers: Johnny Rivers – Positively 4th Street
The Best Dylan Covers: Antony and The Johnsons – Knocking On Heaven’s Door
The Best Dylan Covers: Dave Alvin – Highway 61 Revisited
The Best Dylan Covers: 16 Horsepower – Nobody ‘Cept You
The Best Dylan Covers: Alicia Keys – Pressing On
The Best Dylan Covers: Cowboy Junkies – If You Gotta Go, Go Now
The Best Dylan Covers: Nina Simone – The Ballad of Hollis Brown
The Best Dylan Covers: Ramones – My Back Pages

– Hallgeir