Song of the Day: The Man Comes Around (by Johnny Cash)


We’ve now reached the final day of what has been a week-long horror-themed “Song of the Day” feature for the site. It’s quite appropriate that this final day also lands on Halloween and I’m sure many will approve of this final choice to cap off the week.

A week which has seen Italian film composers and prog-rock bands chosen for creating and contributing some of the best and most memorable themes to horror films which will stand the march of time. We’ve seen an epic song from a Montreal band whose music has the apocalyptic sound to it. There’s also two entries from films created by a master of the horror genre in John Carpenter.

The week began with Goblin’s main title theme for George A. Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead. With Halloween night the premiere of the long-awaited and heavily-hyped tv adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic book series (by none other than Frank Darabont himself) I thought what better way to bookend Goblin’s theme for the Romero zombie epic than by picking Johnny Cash’s song “The Man Comes Around”. One of the last songs penned and sang by The Man In Black himself and properly used by filmmaker Zack Snyder to  be the intro music for his remake of Dawn of the Dead.

This song with its gospel-like (though not as hopeful as most) sound and it’s apocalyptic and Biblical lyrics just speaks of the apocalypse like no other song from this past week has done. It comes off almost like a prophecy come down and spoken by one of God’s main dudes. This song when paired with the scenes of the zombie apocalypse crashing down on an unsuspecting world in Snyder’s film instantly made it a favorite with all zombie fans everywhere and introduced The Man In Black to a whole new set of fans.

I would like to think that when the zombie apocalypse does arrive it would be to this song as I and those who share my belief in how to survive such an event ready ourselves for whatever may come.

The Man Comes Around

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 hundredweight and penneypound
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.

11 responses to “Song of the Day: The Man Comes Around (by Johnny Cash)

  1. It’s interesting how Johnny Cash’s vocal, along with the lyrics, is able to give this song an unsettling feel, even though the instrumentation is in a major key.

    This song was used to great effect in a really interesting scene in an episode of the “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” TV series. As the T-800 single-handedly dispatched an entire FBI/SWAT team, the scene plays in slow motion. The muted sounds of ineffectual gunfire and screaming is heard in the background, while the song plays over all of it. A memorable scene from a surprisingly good and frustratingly short-lived series.

    Johnny was The Man, in his own right.

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  2. I’ve seen it, here on the east coast. It is solid. Attention to detail, matter-of-fact depiction, no camp, great creature effects, pathos,,,I’ll stop there.

    It is not stupid, like so many of the genre films. A very promising start. You won’t be disappointed.

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  3. Well, I am pleased with this introductory episode. But there are only 6 for the first season? Is AMC waiting to see the ratings before committing to more?

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  4. That is certainly true. I have mixed feelings, at best, about “True Blood”.

    My concern is that 6 weeks may not be enoughtime to develop a following, and 6 episodes may not be enough material for the writing to hit its stride, which would help the show garner a reputation, and consequently, ratings.

    Maybe the initial heavy promotion will confirm the existence a sufficiently-large legion of zombie fans who have been waiting for such a show.

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    • I think 6 weeks is enough to really set-up the series. If you’ve read the comic book then you’d see exactly how they can create a buzz for the show in just 6 episodes and leave the audience clamoring for a second. I have a feeling the cliffhanger for this season will push the show’s narrative beyond the first 6-issues of the comics and jump slightly ahead.

      Also, 6-episodes is not unusual for basic cable series trying out its legs. Usually new shows like this would get an initial 8-episode to see if the audience bite. Being a horror series I think AMC wanted to give no more than 6 and the way the comic book series is tailored like a 6-episode season I think Darabont and Kirkman had no problems. WOuld it have been better if they made it a longer first season? Sure and I think fans would’ve loved it, but on a business standpoint I can understand why AMC was only willing to give them just 6 to make their case.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if we get an announcement from AMC within the next week or two that a second season has been greenlit. Darabont already said that any following season that gets the greenlight will be 13-episodes. No more and no less.

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