Day 52, Song 72

Johnny Cash

Man in Black

Johnny Cash is one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century. Some of his most famous songs include, "I Walk the Line", "Folsom Prison Blues", "Ring of Fire", and "Get Rhythm."

First performed at Vanderbilt University in 1971, this song condemns mass incarceration, racism, inequality, and war. Cash was inspired to write the song after speaking with students over the course of his visit to Vanderbilt. In his introduction to the song, he said, 'This song is a very personal thing... it's the way I feel about a lot of things.'


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, 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 OK, But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back, 'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.