Happy Birthday to The Man in Black

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down…

Johnny Cash was born February 26, 1932 and he died on September 12, 2003.

Here’s a link to a lovely Rolling Stones story on Johnny written three years before he passed away.

“He’s a timeless presence,” Rubin says. “From the beginning of rock & roll there’s always been this dark figure who never really fit. He’s still the quintessential outsider. In the hip-hop world you see all these badboy artists who are juggling being on MTV and running from the law. John was the originator of that.”

Here’s a full documentary on Johnny Cash’s life with some emphasis on his advocacy for prison reform. [on YouTube]. 57 minutes. “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison” – Swedish subtitles but it’s in English.

“Man In Black”

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.

A few things about Johnny:
-His parents could not think of a name for him so they gave him the initials “J.R.” He gave himself the name John in the Air Force.
-He was picking cotton at the age of 5.
-Cash recorded an intentionally awful song called “Chicken in Black” in the 80’s to protest Columbia’s indifference to him.


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