Johnny Cash-The_Man_Comes Around

Lyrics:

And I heard as it were the noise of thunder
One of the four beasts saying come and see and I saw
And behold a white horse

There’s a man going around taking names
And he decides who to free and who to blame
Everybody won’t be treated all the same
There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down
When the Man comes around

The hairs on your arm will stand up
At the terror in each sip and in each sup
Will you partake of that last offered cup?
Or disappear into the potter’s ground
When the Man comes around

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers
One hundred million angels singing
Multitudes are marching to the big kettledrum
Voices calling, voices crying
Some are born and some are dying
It’s Alpha and Omega’s kingdom come

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree
The virgins are all trimming their wicks
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree
It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks

Till Armageddon no shalam, no shalom
Then the father hen will call his chickens home
The wise man will bow down before the throne
And at His feet they’ll cast their golden crowns
When the Man comes around

Whoever is unjust let him be unjust still
Whoever is righteous let him be righteous still
Whoever is filthy let him be filthy still
Listen to the words long written down
When the Man comes around

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers
One hundred million angels singing
Multitudes are marching to the big kettledrum
Voices calling and voices crying
Some are born and some are dying
It’s Alpha and Omega’s kingdom come

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree
The virgins are all trimming their wicks
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree
It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks

In measured hundred weight and penney pound
When the Man comes around.

Close (Spoken part)
And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts
And I looked and behold, a pale horse
And his name that sat on him was Death
And Hell followed with him.

 

The Man Comes Around” is the title track from Johnny Cash‘s American IV: The Man Comes Around, released in 2002. It was written several years prior to the release of the album; however, Cash updated it for the album. It is one of the last songs Cash wrote before his death.[4] Both sung and spoken, the song makes numerous Biblical references, especially to the Book of Revelation.[5]

Symbols and references in the lyrics

There are numerous biblical references in the lyrics.[5] A spoken portion from Revelation 6:1–2 in the King James Version[REV 6:1-6:2] introduces the song.[6] The passage describes the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, each heralded by one of the “four beasts” first mentioned in Revelation 4:6–9. The musical portion then begins with Cash reciting that “the man” (Jesus Christ) will one day come to pass judgment. The chorus indicates that these events will be accompanied by trumpets, (as in Revelation ch.8,9,11), pipers (Rev.18:22), and “one hundred million angels singing”. The voice of the Lord in Revelation is often likened to the sound of a loud trumpet (Revelation 1:10; 4:1; and 8:13). Revelation 5:11 states that John saw that there are millions of angels in Heaven.

The song also alludes to the Parable of the Ten Virgins from the Gospel of Matthew (25:1–13) with the lyrics “The virgins are all trimming their wicks,” a reference to the virgins’ preparation of the Second Coming of Christ. The phrase, “It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks” cites Acts 26:14, where Paul the Apostle describes meeting Jesus while traveling to Damascus. It is a reference to a Greek proverb where a kicking ox only injures himself by attempting to kick against a goad, intended to represent the futility of resisting the Lord.

Elsewhere, the song mentions the wise men who bow before the Lord’s throne, and cast their “golden crowns” at the feet of God. Revelation 4 refers to elders who worship the Lord and “lay their crowns” before Him (Revelation 4:10). “Alpha and Omega” refers to God himself. (Rev.1:8,11, 21:6, 22:13), but also to the cries of the newborn and the dying. “Whoever is unjust… etc” is a quote from Revelation 22:11.

Music

The arrangement of the song is sparse (although not so much as in some of Cash’s later compositions, such as ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down‘); two guitars, piano (played in the bass register), and an electric organ.

History

Of the album’s fifteen tracks, only three were written by Cash, with “The Man Comes Around” the sole song specifically penned for it, and the only song Cash wrote in its entirety.

The song was inspired by a dream Cash had about Queen Elizabeth II in which the queen compared Cash to “a thorn tree in a whirlwind.” Haunted by the dream, Cash became curious if the phrase was a biblical reference and eventually found a similar phrase in the Book of Job.[7]

An alternative “early take” of the song appears on the Unearthed box set (2003) and The Legend of Johnny Cash (2005). The “Legend” version omits the spoken word intro and outro.

Legacy

The song was listed as the 296th best song of the 2000s by Pitchfork Media.

In popular culture

In 2003:

  • The song was used during the opening credits and closing credits of the 2003 film The Hunted.

In 2004:

In 2008:

  • The song was used during a scene in the 2008 in the movie My Best Friend’s Girl
  • The song was featured prominently in the final scenes of the season one finale of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  • The song was featured in the closing scenes, last episode (Bomb in the Garden) of the HBO miniseries Generation Kill
  • The song was used during the opening and closing credits of the film Linewatch
  • The song was used in the opening sequence of the Criminal Minds episode “Elephant’s Memory” (season 3, episode 16)
  • The album Sleepytime Tunes Lullaby Renditions of Johnny Cash, credited to The Lullaby Players, features an instrumental cover version done in a lullaby arrangement for children

In 2009:

  • The song was used on the final episode of BBC’s Being Human in the warm up to what is supposed to be a battle between Mitchell and Herrick
  • The song was used in the opening sequence of the CSI episode “Better Off Dead” (season 10, episode 10)

In 2012:

  • The song was sampled in English DJ/Producer Doctor P‘s, song “Flying Spaghetti Monster” as part of his Animal Vegetable Mineral – Part 1 EP
  • The song was used in the climactic penultimate episode of the first season of the new Dallas series in August 2012
  • The song was used in the trailer and soundtrack for the 2012 film Killing Them Softly[8]

In 2013:

  • The first lines of the song were used in the pilot Sleepy Hollow.

In 2014:

  • The song was used in episode 11 of the first season of The Blacklist

In 2015:

  • The song was the soundtrack for an ESPN promotional TV spot for SEC football featuring each team’s coach.
  • The song was used in the promo for Bray Wyatt vs Undertaker at WrestleMania 31.

In 2016:

  • Parodying its use in the opening sequence of Dawn of the Dead, the song was used in the closing film of the “Patriotism” episode (series 4, episode 3) of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle.
  • The song was used during the opening and closing of SkySports coverage of the United States Grand Prix.

In 2017:

  • The song played over the end credits of the film Logan (directed and co-written by James Mangold who had previously directed the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line).

 

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