Johnny Cash maintained that he always wore black because he looked good in it. And he did. However, in the song The Man in Black, Cash lays a more serious reason for the black attire: There's so much darkness in the world, it doesn't make sense to wear bright colors. He wore black as in mourning of wars and suffering.
This is one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs, and one of his more political songs. This song was released during the height of the Vietnam War and it's pretty obvious his sentiments lie with those protesting the war. Given that he was a "Country" star, this stand was pretty radical for its day. Also this recording is from Denmark. If this had happened during the Iraq war, just think of the reaction on Fox News for criticizing the war effort on foreign shores. I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, I wear the black for those who never read, Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose, I wear it for the sick and lonely old, And, I wear it for the thousands who have died, Well, there's things that never will be right I know, Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
I wear the black for those who never read,
Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,