Tracks of the Decade: “The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash


Johnny Cash
“The Man Comes Around”
from American IV: The Man Comes Around
Arguably the greatest recording by Cash since the career-defining live take of “Folsom Prison Blues”, the matter-of-fact apocalypticism of “The Man Comes Around” makes for one heck of a great and strange pop song. The sparse production of Rick Rubin leaves the voice of the Man in Black front and center, and it’s the gravitas of his prophetic timbre that makes this a timeless cut. The Apocalypse according to St. Cash is a synthesis of high biblical imagery and old western justice; the sherriff returns to town and rounds up all the thugs and outlaws with a swift hand. He draws a fairly clear line to many of the Lord’s own parables, especially that of the Wicked Tenants. It gives me pause to think that this legend, who’s life was so transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, left three classic tracks to the world in his final years that showed forth more divine judgment than mercy (“The Man Comes Around”, “Hurt”, and “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”). Nothing too soft and tender nor meek and mild here, but should we really expect anything less than that from the man who claimed he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?” Cash’s final message to this world was simple: there remains much that is horribly wrong. It’s a place just as full of monsters as it is of saints. Who can deliver us from it all?

cash-themanJohnny Cash
“The Man Comes Around”
from AMERICAN IV: THE MAN COMES AROUND

Arguably the greatest recording by Cash since the career-defining live take of “Folsom Prison Blues”, the matter-of-fact apocalypticism of “The Man Comes Around” makes for one heck of a great and strange pop song. The sparse production of Rick Rubin leaves the voice of the Man in Black front and center, and it’s the gravitas of his prophetic timbre that makes this a timeless cut. The Apocalypse according to St. Cash is a synthesis of high biblical imagery and old western justice; the sherriff returns to town and rounds up all the thugs and outlaws with a swift hand. He draws a fairly clear line to many of the Lord’s own parables, especially that of the Wicked Tenants. It gives me pause to think that this legend, who’s life was so transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, left three classic tracks to the world in his final years that showed forth more divine judgment than mercy (“The Man Comes Around”, “Hurt”, and “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”). Nothing too soft and tender nor meek and mild here, but should we really expect anything less than that from the man who claimed he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?” Cash’s final message to this world was simple: there remains much that is horribly wrong. It’s a place just as full of monsters as it is of saints. Who can deliver us from it all?

Johnny Cash – “The Man Comes Around”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: