Archives of Reception of the Bible

Past blogging in more ways than one.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cash quote 3

"I wrote and recorded “The Man Comes Around” early on in this project, and for three or four months I recycled that song, over and over, until I’d have to get up out of bed and turn on the radio. It’s an unending loop through my brain. Over and over and over again. Finally my head settled on that one particular song, and won’t let go.

I spent more time on this song than any I ever wrote. It’s based, loosely, on the book of Revelation, with a couple of lines or a chorus, from other biblical sources. I must have written three dozen pages of lyrics, then painfully weeded it down to the song you have here.

The initial idea for the song came from a dream I had seven years ago. I was in Nottingham, England and had bought a book called “Dreaming of the Queen.” The book talked about the great number of people in that country who dream that they are with Queen Elizabeth II. I dreamed that I walked into Bucking ham Palace, and there she sat, knitting or sewing. She has a basket of fabrics and lace. Another woman sat beside her, and they were talking and laughing. As I approached, the Queen looked up at me and said, “Johnny Cash! You’re like a thorn tree in a whirlwind.” Then, of course, I awoke. I realised that “Thorn tree in a whirlwind” sounded familiar to me. Eventually I decided that it was biblical, and I found it in the book of Job. From there it grew into a song, and I started lifting things from the book of Revelation. It became “The Man Comes Around.”

“Revelation” by its mere interpretation says that something “is revealed”. I wish it were. The more I dug into the book the more I came to realise why it’s such a puzzle, even to many Theologians. Eventually I shuffled my papers, so to speak, drew out four or five pages, and wrote my lyrics."

Johnny Cash
Liner notes, American IV: The Man Come Around (2002),


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