Man in Black

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About Man in Black

"Man in Black" (or "The Man in Black") is a protest song written and recorded by singer-songwriter Johnny Cash, originally released on his 1971 album of the same name. Cash himself was known as "The Man in Black" for his distinctive style of on-stage costuming. The lyrics are an after-the-fact explanation of this with the entire song as a protest statement against the treatment of poor people by wealthy politicians, mass incarceration, and the war in Vietnam. In the intro to his first performance of the song, Johnny Cash revealed he had talked to some of the audience members from Vanderbilt University that weekend, and was inspired to write "Man in Black," revising it a few times just before the concert on Wednesday. He performed the song holding a piece of paper with the just-revised lyrics. At the end of the song he received a standing ovation. In 1993, Spanish rock band Loquillo y Trogloditas recorded a cover of the song in Spanish for their album Mientras respiremos. 


Year:
1981
303 Views
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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 is long paid for his crime
But is there because he's a victim of the times

I wear the black for those who've 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 to 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
Believin' that the Lord was on their side
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died
Believin' 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 okay
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
'Til things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black

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Johnny Cash

John R. "Johnny" Cash (February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003), was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Although he is primarily remembered as a country music icon, his songs and sound spanned many other genres including rockabilly and rock and roll—especially early in his career—as well as blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal led to Cash being inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Gospel Music Hall of Fame. more »

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Written by: JOHNNY CASH

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