The Man in Black

Johnny Cash at the Starlite Theater 9/3/94 (photo by Martin Benjamin)
Johnny Cash at the Starlite Theater 9/3/94 (photo by Martin Benjamin)

“Man In Black” (by John R. Cash)

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,
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.

Today marks the 78th anniversary of the birth of Johnny Cash, one of the most influential figures, not just in country music, but in American music.

Although Cash died in 2003, this week his new album, “American VI: Ain’t No Grave,” was released on Lost Highway Records, marking his final collaboration with producer Rick Rubin. Fans from all over the world are being invited to help celebrate Johnny Cash’s life, music and the enduring voice he gave to the poor and
beaten down by posting pictures of themselves wearing black today.

Go here for information and links to join the Facebook event (to post your photos), follow on Twitter and to hear the album’s first single, “Ain’t No Grave.” All participants will be eligible to win a copy of “American VI: Ain’t No Grave,” as well as the 5-CD Johnny Cash box set, “Unearthed.” The lucky winner will be chosen at random on March 12.

NOTE: This contest is NOT sponsored by We’re just passing on the info to you.

Also, in celebration of Johnny Cash’s birthday, there are several special musical events taking place around Nippertown. Unfortunately, three of them are all taking place on Saturday night.

Sublime singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash and her band step into the spotlight at The Egg in Albany at 8pm Saturday, playing music from throughout her career, as well as highlights from her latest album, “The List,” based on a list of seminal country songs that her father gave her years ago. Singer-songwriter-violinist Jenny Scheinman opens the show. Tickets to the concert are $34.50.

Meanwhile at the Van Dyck in Schenectady, many of the area’s finest roots musicians will gather together for the Johnny Cash Birthday Bash at 8pm on Saturday. The house band will feature vocalist-drummer Dale Haskell, guitarist John Hoffman and bassist Big Frank Novko with vocalist MotherJudge at the helm. Scheduled guests include Jim Gaudet and Bob Ristau (the Railroad Boys), nine-year-old Cristo Lewis, Ashley Pond, Ramblin Jug Stompers, Tom Benson (Dyer Switch), Tom McWatters (the Sense Offenders), Terry McClain (The Realside), Mike McMann, Rob Skane and maybe a few surprises. Tix are $8 in advance; $10 at the door. For a sneak preview, listen to MotherJudge and McWatters at about 11am UPDATE: 3pm today on WEXT-FM.

And up in Salem, the Fort Salem Theater is hosting its own tribute to the Man in Black with “The Spirit of Johnny Cash” featuring Harold Ford as Cash and Laura Lacy as June Carter. Showtime is 8pm on Saturday.

Photo by Martin Benjamin.

  1. Roger Green says

    Listened to American IV today. Next week, the box set.

  2. Kathy Conway says

    Roseanne Cash show at The Egg Saturday night was awesome – Ms. Cash was define! An interesting message Roseanne left the audience with Saturday night: She hopes one day that her songs will be on her Granddaughter’s “List” to learn and perform – just as her Dad, Johnny left her “The List” of songs to learn and perform.

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