Why did Johnny Cash Wear Black?

Johnny Cash is probably one of the most prominent artists of country and Rock N´ Roll from the 20th century.  His success was so big that he even has...

Johnny Cash is probably one of the most prominent artists of country and Rock N´ Roll from the 20th century.  His success was so big that he even has a museum dedicated to him. For me, what makes him special is his ability to transpire sentiment and true emotion through his songs. Whether it’s a ballade or a joyful song, melody and lyrics always merge in perfect harmony. Man in Black is no exception. In this song Cash gives a reason for why he always wore black. According to the lyrics, it was his way to express his concern and criticism towards social inequalities and injustices, and thus, call attention for the poor, for the lonely and sick, for men dying in wars and for prisoners victims on the system. Man in Black is just one of his many successes and one of my favorites from his extensive repertoire.

Man in Black lyrics:

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 

 

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Silvie Vale

Passionate about LGBT issues and human rights, Silvie Vale has recently graduated in Development and International Relations from Aalborg University, Denmark. She is specialized in Global Gender Studies and is particularly interested in creating awareness about matters of social justice. She loves travelling, researching and learning new things.

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