#64: Man in Black: Johnny Cash: 1971
I cannot move on without one more Johnny Cash song, it is his iconic Man in Black. This is a song which simply speaks for itself. It was recorded on February 16th 1971 and made public just one day later. It appears on the Man in Black album which was released on May 31, 1971.
Man in Black is 8 verses of reasons for Cash to wear black. He sees so much injustice in the world; everywhere he looks he sees folks struggling, oppressed, sick, poor, defeated, hopeless, dying for causes that never seem to find any resolution. It is a depressing tretise on life; Cash’s trademark black attire is a symbol for his mourning over all that he sees which needs to change. And here we are over 50 years on and there is still such a lot to mourn, when we are in one of those black places we could be tempted to believe that things will never get any better.
While I have the upmost respect for Cash and his deep reasons for wearing the colour of mourning and while I fully concede there is much to mourn over, personally, I favour colour. Light dispells darkness and colour is the symbol of life. The darker the world becomes, greater is the need for light, for sparkle, for colour, for hope. Greater is the need for folks to stand, firm, secure, shining, a lighthouse for those who never read, or listened to the words that Jesus said. Those words are there to rescue a fallen people from darkness.
“Man In Black” Johnny Cash 1971
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.