Johnny Cash

Man in Black

Composed by Johnny Cash

Song Review by

It’s rare that an artist plays with his own myth as Johnny Cash. The fact that he recognises his own legend in an autobiographical song such as “Man In Black” sets him apart from many performers, although the technique is somewhat more common in country music. “Man In Black” is a terrific song with Cash attempting to explain why he dresses in black. The singer claims he wears the colour “for the thousands who have died”, for the “sick and lonely old” and for “the lives that could have been”. The lyric is magnificent, full of poetic touches worthy of a writer of the stature of Cash and, although the subject matter could have turned the song into a novelty, it is one of Cash’s most heartfelt songs, a song that doesn’t just explain his dress-sense, but his whole creed and outlook on life.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1971 Col / Sony BMG
No Image 1972 CBS Records
This Is Johnny Cash 1973 Special Music
No Image 1981 CBS Records
Columbia Records 1958-1986 1987 Columbia
Country U.S.A.: 1971 1989
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Patriot 1990 CBS Records
The Man in Black: 1959-1962 1991 Columbia / Sony Music 2:52
The Essential Johnny Cash 1955-1983 1992 Sony Music Distribution 2:52
Hits [1993] 1993 Sony Music Distribution 2:52
The Man in Black: Definitive Collection 1994 Concept 2:52
The Man in Black: 1963-1969 1996 Bear Family Records 2:52
16 Biggest Hits 1999 Legacy 2:54
Man in Black: His Greatest Hits 1999 Sony Music Distribution 2:54
La Legende Country 2000 Versailles Records 2:51
C.M.T. Classic Country 2000
Various Artists
BMG
Greatest Hits: Best of the Best Gold 2001 Columbia 2:52
Greatest Hits [Umbrella DVD] 2001 Umbrella
No Image 2002 S & P Records
Wanted Man: The Very Best of Johnny Cash 2002 Sony Music Distribution 2:54
The Essential Johnny Cash 2002 Columbia / Legacy 2:51
The Man in Black: The International Johnny Cash 2002 Bear Family Records 2:52
Johnny Cash Sings His Best [Double Disc] 2002 Teevee Records 2:51
I Walk the Line [Music Media] 2003 Music Media (Germany) / Epic 2:52
Man in Black: The Very Best of Johnny Cash 2003 Sony Music Distribution
Sings His Best 2004 Teevee Records 2:51
Life 2004 Sbme Special Mkts. 2:53
Country Legends 2004 Green Hill Productions 2:53
The Legend [Columbia] 2005 Columbia/Legacy 2:52
The Legend of Johnny Cash 2005 Hip-O / Island Def Jam Music Group 2:52
Ring of Fire: The Legend of Johnny Cash 2005 Universal Distribution 2:53
Man in Black: Live in Denmark 1971 2006 Sony Music 3:21
Greatest Hits [Kaleidoscope] 2006 Kaleidoscope
Two Sides to Johnny Cash 2006 Umbrella
Sings the Ballads of the True West/Life 2006 Sony BMG 2:53
Love, God, Murder, Life [4 CD] 2007 Columbia 2:53
Gospel Music of Johnny Cash [DVD] 2007 Spring House
The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show [DVD] 2007 Col
Gospel Music of Johnny Cash 2008 Gaither Music Group / Spring House 2:12
The Line: Walking With a Legend 2008 Well Go USA
Playlist: The Very Best of Johnny Cash 2008 Sony Music
The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show [CD/DVD] 2008 Col 3:14
Super Hits, Vol. 2 2008 Sbme Special Mkts. 2:51
Johnny Cash's America 2008 Columbia/Legacy 2:53
At Madison Square Garden/Man in Black: Live in Denmark 1971 2008 Columbia/Legacy
The Music of Johnny Cash 2009 Columbia / Legacy / Sony Music Distribution 2:53
The Best Year of My Life: 1971 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music
Setlist: The Very Best of Johnny Cash Live 2010 Columbia / Legacy 3:11
Legends: Super Hits/Super Hits, Vol. 2 2010 Allegro Corporation / American Legends 2:51
Original Album Classics [2012] 2012 Columbia / Sony Music
Country: Johnny Cash 2012 BMG / Sony Music Entertainment 2:52
The Box Set Series 2014 Columbia / Legacy 2:52
Out Among the Stars/The Classics 2014 Columbia / Sony Legacy 2:53
100 Essential Tracks: Singer-Songwriter Hits
Various Artists
Sony Music
No Image
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire 2:53
No Image
Various Artists
Pickwick
No Image
Various Artists
Columbia 2:55
Essential
Various Artists
Sony BMG
La  Légende Country
Various Artists
Sony BMG
The  Best of Johnny Cash [Sony] Sony Music Distribution
blue highlight denotes editor's pick