TCC Playlist: When The Man Comes Around and Personal Jesus by Johnny Cash

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Country, rock, and gospel legend, Johnny Cash, “The Man in Black” lived a hard life. One of seven children, he started picking cotton at the age of five. His older brother died at the age of fifteen when he was working in a mill, and Cash spoke of his desire to see him again in heaven. Despite his success as a musician, Cash struggled with drugs and alcohol throughout his life. Perhaps because of this, he had great compassion for prisoners and performed concerts in prisons. He said he wore black on behalf of the poor and the hungry, on behalf of “the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,” on behalf of those who have been betrayed by drugs and as a way of mourning “the lives that could have been” but were instead lost to the Vietnam War. Cash was a devout Christian who considered himself “the biggest sinner of them all.”

One of the last songs Johnny Cash wrote was “When the Man Comes Around.” The song is full of Biblical end-times imagery. The musical portion begins with Cash singing that one day a man will come to pass judgement. Clearly, Cash was preparing for his own death. Listen to this strange spare song and his cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” here: