This song was written and recorded by Johnny Cash… included on his album, American IV: The Man Comes Around.
Obviously, much could be said about Johnny Cash… and you already know much about him. But, the barest of biography would include the following data:
John Ray Cash was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author (February 26, 1932 in Kingsland, AR – September 12, 2003, Nashville, TN). He was married to country singer, June Carter-Cash.
Though his personal life has been well-documented, his spiritual life is, too.
He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977.
He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 (Performer).
This song was written several years prior to the release of the album; but, Cash updated it for the album. It is one of the last songs he wrote before his death. Both sung and spoken, the song makes numerous Biblical references, especially to the Book of Revelation.
One of the more interesting Bible studies I’ve led was at a men’s breakfast; we parsed the many Scriptural references in this song, and discussed the meaning of this song.
Bible Reference… Revelation
(Spoken) 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 goin’ ’round, takin’ 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 singin’;
multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin’, voices cryin’, some are born and some are dyin’;
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.
‘Til Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom;
then the Father Hen will call His chickens Home.
The wise men 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. (CHORUS)
In measured hundredweight and penny pound; when the Man comes around.
(Spoken) 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.