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The Covers: X – “The Man In Black.

April 27, 2020

Last of four posts featuring Johnny Cash.

This one is odd for three reasons:

  1. It is not entirely a cover, since Johnny sings on part of the cover – he does a duet with the singer of the band covering this tune.
  2. This version is a hard rock/punk version by an obscure band. A punk cover had been made the year previous to this recording, but it was made by a much better-known band. In an earlier post, I presented the classic punk group Social Distortion’s cover of “Ring of Fire.” Cash did not sing on that one. What’s strange is the band this time was not at all famous. And Cash was on the recording. Only people like me who are in their 40’s or older, and who were into Christian hard rock when we were young (I graduated high school in 1991), probably remember the band Cash did this cover tune with.
  3. The third strange thing is I can find no information online on how this collaboration came to be.

This song is one of Cash’s best known and best loved. Here is some info from Wikipedia on the history of the song:

Man in Black” (or “The Man in Black“) is a protest song written and recorded by singer-songwriter Johnny Cash, originally released on his 1971 album of the same name. Cash himself was known as “The Man in Black” for his distinctive style of on-stage costuming. The lyrics are an after-the-fact explanation of this with the entire song as a protest statement against the treatment of poor people by wealthy politicians, mass incarceration, and the war in Vietnam. In the intro to his first performance of the song, Johnny Cash revealed he had talked to some of the audience members from Vanderbilt University that weekend, and was inspired to write “Man in Black,” revising it a few times just before the concert on Wednesday. He performed the song holding a piece of paper with the just-revised lyrics. At the end of the song he received a standing ovation.”

And now, the cover version/duet.. with the Christian punk/hardrock band One Bad Pig – a band who many Christians did not like.. these guys enjoyed smashing guitars and doing Gallagher-like stunts (though no watermelon smashing), and generally had a good time on stage. They, like pretty much all Christian bands except Stryper, were unknown outside of Christian circles.

But Cash was cool enough and had a good enough sense of humor to not only allow this recording, but to sing on it.

Cash purists will not like this cover version, but I am still going to post it. Why? Because it is a lot of fun. Also, I remember, back in ’91, a friend telling me “Johnny Cash is on the new One Bad Pig album!” I’d already bought OBP’s first album, and was a fan. I was very surprised to hear Cash on the second one.

So, from the 1991 album, “I Scream Sunday,” here is Johnny Cash and the band, One Bad Pig:


Alrighty..  Hope you aren’t deaf..

This was the last of four posts with Johnny Cash. I don’t plan on doing multiple posts on bands in the future, but who knows.. Actually, yes, I do have two Led Zeppelin covers in mind.. but I won’t be doing either of those next..

Next post is a song from one of the best known ’80’s syth-pop/new wave bands, and an Italian metal group’s fantastic cover.

RIP Johnny Cash.. you were, and always will be, The Man in Black.

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