Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Bob Dylan knew what he was talking about when he wrote ‘Masters of War’ — plus his thoughts on Army recruiting!

I noticed the other day with surprise that Bob Dylan’s website lists among books that influenced him Clausewitz’s On War. I wonder if there are any other pop artists influenced by that book? Maybe Eric Burdon or Edwin Starr? What is weird is that as I typed this, a Bob Dylan song came on the ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

I noticed the other day with surprise that Bob Dylan's website lists among books that influenced him Clausewitz's On War. I wonder if there are any other pop artists influenced by that book? Maybe Eric Burdon or Edwin Starr?

What is weird is that as I typed this, a Bob Dylan song came on the radio -- "Rainy Day Women," which I don't even like. Btw, he isn't just an icon of the ‘60s. There are a ton of Dylan songs over the last 20 or 30 years that I think are great and should be better known -- "A Sweetheart Like You" (which I think is about an assistant to Lucifer talking to a morally lost woman), "Jokerman" (which I think in part is Dylan talking about himself, and about other false idols), "Working Man Blues No. 2" (with its refrain about fighting on the front lines), and another recent song, "Thunder on the Mountain," which speaks to the issue of military personnel with a neat rhyme:

Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches
I'll recruit my army from the orphanages

I noticed the other day with surprise that Bob Dylan’s website lists among books that influenced him Clausewitz’s On War. I wonder if there are any other pop artists influenced by that book? Maybe Eric Burdon or Edwin Starr?

What is weird is that as I typed this, a Bob Dylan song came on the radio — "Rainy Day Women," which I don’t even like. Btw, he isn’t just an icon of the ‘60s. There are a ton of Dylan songs over the last 20 or 30 years that I think are great and should be better known — "A Sweetheart Like You" (which I think is about an assistant to Lucifer talking to a morally lost woman), "Jokerman" (which I think in part is Dylan talking about himself, and about other false idols), "Working Man Blues No. 2" (with its refrain about fighting on the front lines), and another recent song, "Thunder on the Mountain," which speaks to the issue of military personnel with a neat rhyme:

Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of bitches
I’ll recruit my army from the orphanages

Well, it works the way he sings it.

PS — While we are on the subject of music, you should check out Radio Paradise. Good music, no ads. I used to listen to it while in Baghdad to get my mind off the war. Now that I think of it, it is kind of ironic — being in Hell but listening to the music of Paradise.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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