Song of the Day #4,909: ‘Man in Black’ – Johnny Cash

The title track of Johnny Cash’s 1971 album Man in Black, today’s random SOTD offers an explanation for Cash’s drab wardrobe.

While the song paints an evocative picture of a man who has seen too much injustice in the world and made a sartorial choice to reflect his disapproval, Cash has reportedly said that he started wearing black because it was easy to keep clean on tour.

That sums up Western mythology pretty well, actually. The mundane gets spun up into legend.

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
Living 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 time

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 doing mighty fine, I do suppose
In our streak of lightning 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 mourning 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
Believing that the Lord was on their side
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died
Believing that we all were on their side

Well, there’s things that never will be right I know
And things need changing 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
Until things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,909: ‘Man in Black’ – Johnny Cash

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    It would be a rather short song if he described the real reason for wearing black, though perhaps he could stretch by talking about how different colors and fabrics fare in the washing machine and dryer.😀

  2. Peg says:

    Of course if he traveled with a golden retriever he would not have been able to wear black 😊

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.