Johnny Cash - The Man in Black


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.

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.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
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.

I wear the black for those who never read,
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.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
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.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
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.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
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.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
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.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
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.


The big difference between Cash and the Dixie Chicks is that Cash was successful because of his talent. The Dixie Chicks were a marketing-based corporate brand. Once they changed that brand, they lost their audience.

I had no problems with the Dixie Chicks making political statements. I had a problem with the Dixie Chicks complaining that their fans didn't continue to buy the crap they put out.

Johnny Cash was a wordsmith. I think this song speaks of either simple humility or a sad cynicism, maybe a little of both.

Johnny Cash was a master wordsmith, I a very different way he kind is like Jack Johnson with how amazing his personal life songs are.

Hey i think (very unusually) that it very important to be in harmony with others to make things works. With anything. Any field of life.

Agreed with what algonad said about the dixie chicks just being a marketable group of girls with no great talent.

Johnny Cash's the long black veil could be my favorite song ever.


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This page contains a single entry by Freealonzo published on February 8, 2010 10:58 AM.

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