Bob Dylan’s Pay in Blood – A Wise Ol’ Man’s ‘Masters of War’.

Interestingly, at the time this article was published the conversation in the comments section alluded to how Dylan had been on the Nobel Prize radar and I remarked, ‘May be one day he might scoop the prize’. Well we know how that turned out!

Observation Blogger

payDylan is using his voice in Pay in Blood to project a dialogue between four distinct protagonists in this protest song. The first half entails a fierce exchange between ‘slave’ and ‘slaveowner’ but then the song transfigures into a comparably merciless showdown between ‘Soldier’ and ‘Politician’. I’ve always considered it in some sense Dylan’s omniscient update of his own early period piece -‘Masters of War’.

I was translating Pay in Blood into Spanish for a friend when I realised a clear division between the first four lines of the verse and the subsequent four. Then it became apparent to me which characters he was representing in each 4 line stanza. Also his voice changes markedly and the instrumentals shift to reflect the alteration.

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“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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48 comments on “Bob Dylan’s Pay in Blood – A Wise Ol’ Man’s ‘Masters of War’.
  1. badfinger20 says:

    Wonderful breakdown. Bob is incredible. I’ve seen the guy 8 times and I’ll happily see him again because no two concerts were the same. He has had so many different phases and I like most of them if not all.

    • Yes, he’s something else. 8 times nice. I have seen him 5 times and you are right no two shows are every the same. I dare say if I lived in the States I would have seen him a lot more.

      • badfinger20 says:

        He comes through Nashville quite a bit. My son saw him the last time with me…now he is a major fan. The last few times I saw him…there was a good 70-30 at least of younger people…which is really cool to me.

      • You’re lucky where you’re situated. God knows how much money I would forked out to see him if I lived there. I’m glad your son saw the light and is now fully converted haha

      • badfinger20 says:

        Yes he is! He enjoyed it much more than I thought he would because Dylan sang a lot of newer songs and Sinatra covers. His first concerts were… Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, The Who, and then Bob Dylan.
        He told me this past week he would rather see Dylan again more than anyone else including the Stones… I thought wow…he really is a fan. He likes all of his stuff but alot from 2000 to now.

      • I adore his Sinatra covers. I think Shadows is a very underappreciated album. Wow what a great list of concert events. Fantastic. Wow, if he said that about Dylan then I agree he must a card carrying member of Dylanholics haha.

      • badfinger20 says:

        He has the old Dylan hair poster in his room…so yes he is a member lol.
        I did enjoy his Sinatra covers also. I read from another blogger that he has recently done some James Brown covers live on his current tour… That I want to see.

      • Wow really? James Brown covers. I couldn’t imagine how they would sound. I might have to look it up on you tube.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Hanspostcard is who mentioned it… here it is…I wanted to hear it again.

      • Thanks for the link! I’m going to view it a bit later. I have to go now

      • Dylan’s rendition of its a Man’s Man’s Man’s world is excellent! He sings it so well too. Thanks for the link.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I’m glad you liked it. A little off-topic but I watched Casablanca last night. I do want to watch it again. It’s great I especially love the atmosphere of the movie. Mark one off my list.

      • That’s a big one off your bucket list. Good job! Yes the atmosphere is impressive. I have seen it 3 times and I am also due to watch it again. It seems to get better with repeated viewings.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I am looking forward to seeing it again.

        Ingrid Bergman was a great actress…on top of being a total knockout.

      • Yes, she was gorgeous! I’m going to have a shower and then after watch ‘Sleeper’!

      • badfinger20 says:

        I hope you like it…get ready for some scify gags…

      • Ok, I just finished watching Sleeper and I adored it. I can’t remember the last time I saw such a funny movie. How I hadn’t heard of it or seen it is sacrilege. Can’t wait to watch it again. It had me in hysterics on many occasions. I didn’t know Woody was such a fantastic physical comedian. When he woke from that cryogenic state geez was that funny. ‘My brain is my second favourite organ’!
        There wasn’t a dull moment in the movie. The props in the movie are great and the references to Kubrick and other Sci fi movies are abundant. ‘Hello I’m rags, woof woof woof’ x repeat Haha
        Dianne Keaton was outstanding and a ‘knockout’. She stole many scenes. They have amazing chemistry. Her doing the Brando impersonation was priceless. And wow the cloning of the nose scenes were just outrageous.

        Are there any other Woody movies just as good in that silly style which you could point me towards? Man, thanks for recommending it to me. I needed a good laugh too.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I’m so happy you liked it. Do you see why I was wondering at first because you can’t really compare this to Annie Hall or Manhattan… He was heavily influenced by Groucho, Chaplin, and Keaton.

        Dianne Keaton and Woody were great together. I love the house and the cars they drove also.

        I haven’t seen all of his early movies…I’ve seen Bananas, Take the Money and Run, Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex, and The Front. You got me on a Allen kick earlier and I rewatched a few.
        Take The Money and Run is good…a little wackier and a little too long to me but it is funny.

        I’m going to watch “Play it again Sam” this weekend…or plan to and I’ll tell you about that one. Which is a play off of Casablanca of course…

      • Yes, well I haven’t been exposed to that comedy genre before including those legends you mentioned. So the genre of comedy felt so new to me. But it blew me away how much I liked it. The houses, the cars and the production design in general was excellent and deserve their own recognition as playing a huge role in this movie. The most surprising aspect is this movie is so scantily known. There are just 29 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes website. There is no movie discussion which I could find about the movie. It truly seems it has gone under the radar.
        Ok well tell me how you get on with ‘Play It Again Sam’. I’m going to get my hands on ‘Take The Money and Run’ and let you know what I think. I’m probably going to do a blog movie review of Sleeper in the coming days since I enjoyed it so much. Cheers.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I’m so glad you liked it. If you ever want to try Chaplin, Keaton and Marx Brothers…tell me and not that I’m an expert but those three I know really well…I can at least point you to a movie by each of them…

        Groucho Marx’s wit alone is awesome.

      • Which would you consider your favourite release/output by any of those 3?

      • badfinger20 says:

        Well silent comedy movies take a different approach… that would be Chaplin and Keaton
        The Marx Brothers though are easier to get off the bat…because of course they talk

        For me it would probably be Keaton, Chaplin and then the Marx Brothers… but they are two different kinds of comedy. Woody was heavily influenced by Groucho Marx…I would start there…a movie called Duck Soup and the other called Horse Feathers. Marx Brothers = anarchy…

        They are NOTHING like the Three Stooges…nothing like that. There is alot of wit and comebacks.

        Sorry if I go on and on…I’m such big fans of all three. I found out about Woody through reading about them…all three

      • Duck Soup and Horse feathers then.
        So I don’t lose track of your recommendations I have started a list in my notepad application. It would be too easy to lose track of them. Haha

      • badfinger20 says:

        I’ll leave you alone after this but I’ll do a blog on Horse Feathers this weekend if I can. I’ve done one on Duck Soup. Not that I need a reason but you given me a reason to watch all of these for the tenth time.

      • What I am sadly realizing is there seems too many good movies and too little time to watch them all. I also have a backlog of my own movies that I have wanted to watch. Wow for the tenth time? They must be fricken good. Can’t wait to see it.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Yea but my knowledge on current movies is terrible. You are right about not enough time.
        Some of the movies…like Woody’s you miss things and rewatch them. Plus I’ve shown other people the movies and watched them again and again.

      • Woody’s movies are so rewatchable. I have seen Blue Jasmine at least 8 times. I know I’ll be watching Sleeper again, but the next time in good company. I’m glad I have a more classically astute admirer of cinema who can usher me towards some great movies that I wouldn’t have otherwise had known about. By the way, have you seen Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’?

      • badfinger20 says:

        No I haven’t watched Stalker…From 1979…that is right up my alley.

        I’m glad you brought up Ingrid Bergman the other day so I finally watched Casablanca

        The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is coming soon.

      • I didn’t bring up Ingrid Bergman the actress. I wrote a movie review about ‘Smiles of a Summer Night’ from the famous Swedish director – ‘Ingmar Bergman’. Don’t worry, the names are often confused. Funnily enough Ingmar Bergman and Ingrid Bergman (who is Swedish herself, but no relation) eventually did a fantastic movie together called ‘Autumn Sonata’. I don’t think it is in the top bracket Ingmar Bergman output, but Ingrid Bergman’s acting is sublime in that movie.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Yes Ingmar is the director… Not the first time I got confused by the names. He has been in many things Ive read about other actors and actresses.

      • If you haven’t seen Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Persona’, ‘The Seventh Seal’ or ‘Wild Strawberries’ then excuse me my arrogance when I say, you are sorely missing out on viewing some of the greatest movies ever made. They are in a word ‘phenomenal’.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Now I’ve done like you and copied the names to my notes in my computer. I’m glad I’ll have some to look forward to.

      • Haha yes we let things get a little out of hand. Just kidding. We obviously have a similar taste in music and cinema, so it’s only befitting we take each other’s opinion seriously.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Hey keep recommending I like to discover more. That is why we blog…to meet people with similiar tastes and learn more.
        I appreciate the recommendations.

      • Stalker, I watched a week ago for the first time and was utterly captivated by its premise. The writing is a work of pure genius. I can see why Bergman revered him so much. I have Tarkovsky’s other SciFi masterpiece ready to watch called ‘Solaris’ which is also highly regarded and often mentioned alongside Kubrick’s Space Odyssey as one of the greatest Sci Fi movies ever made. I can’t wait to see it, if Stalker is anything to go by. Stalker like 2001 is not a movie which you put on for shits and giggles. They require a set aside time where you can completely immerse yourself in them without interruptions and they have your complete and undivided attention. They aren’t night time movies where you are liable to drift off….Rather they are rainy Sunday afternoon movies where you just want to get lost in a movie, but you are willing to be a participant in the journey.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I was leaving work and my son called me and I told him about Stalker and he then named me the director and said he has been wanting to watch it for a long time. I’m a huge fan of Space Odyssey…I would love to see that one on the big screen.
        We are going to make time in the upcoming week to watch Stalker. He is taking video production in his first year of College next year and is more of a movie person than I am.
        I’m looking forward to it.

      • Your son’s career sounds fascinating man! The fact that you guys watch movies together so often is really good stuff. Is there better father and son time than that? Well maybe, but not much. My son is 9 and we like to watch movies together at the cinema. The last movie we saw was Alpha at the cinema. Just let me warn you Stalker is pretty challenging viewing if arthouse cinema doesn’t wet your cinematic appetite

      • badfinger20 says:

        It is nice to spend time with him watching things. We have watched The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Clockwork Orange etc… It doesn’t get much better than that time together…as you know with your son.

        Well I love silent movies so I’m accustomed to subtitles and I do like different kind of movies. I like scifi movies also…

      • Wow, I saw some of those movies with my own father. Yes some of my fondest memories are him and I enjoying great cinema. I’m signing off tonight. Have a good one

      • FYI Paul Thomas Anderson’s inspiration for ‘There Will Be Blood’ was ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ which of course stars Bogart.

      • badfinger20 says:

        I already have The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ lined up. I’ve seen many Clark Gable and Ronald Colman movies but non from Bogart except last night.

      • Oh wow, then add ‘The African Queen’ to your list as well. I’ve only seen Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind I believe. Ronald Colman I’m unfamiliar. Any recommendations from their film catalogue?

      • badfinger20 says:

        Ronald Colman is very good in “Lost Horizon” a Frank Capra film…really good. This one I would reccomend.
        Gable in “It Happened One Night” and Misfits…his last movie is pretty good.

        I will add it

      • I’ve seen a few Frank Capra films and I never really warmed to them. I found them overly sentimental. May be I was just in a bad mood those days are they are more attuned for the American audiences. I don’t know. I’ll put Lost Horizon on my to watch list. Thanks.

      • badfinger20 says:

        Some of them can be…Lost Horizon is pretty good. Another Capra film I like that has Jimmy Stewart is “You Can’t Take It With You.”…of course it is all subjective. You are right…the mood you are in can decide some things about movies or songs we watch/listen to for the first time .

      • I love Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock movies but Frank Capra much less so. I’ll give Lost Horizon a go and if I like it I’ll check out ‘You can’ t take it with you’. Cheers buddy.

  2. hanspostcard says:

    I don’t know if his current tour is still going on or if he is taking a breather but I’d recommend it- playing a lot of newer material [last 20 years} and of course some of his classics- saw him in November again and was glad I did.

    • I haven’t heard much from him live since his Shadows release. That’s great he’s still going strong and mixing up the set list a bit. Sounds like he was rocking in November. I’ve heard only good reports about his recent concerts. Thanks for chiming in Hansard.

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