Man in Black (song)

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"Man in Black"
Single by Johnny Cash
from the album Man in Black
B-side"Little Bit of Yesterday"
ReleasedMarch 1971
GenreCountry folk
Songwriter(s)Johnny Cash
Producer(s)Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash singles chronology
"Flesh and Blood"
"Man in Black"
"Singin' in Vietnam Talkin' Blues"
Cash singing into a microphone and strumming a guitar
Cash in black at his legendary 1969 performance at San Quentin

"Man in Black" (or "The Man in Black") is a protest song written and recorded by singer-songwriter Johnny Cash, originally released on his 1971 album of the same name. Cash himself was known as "The Man in Black" for his distinctive style of on-stage costuming. The lyrics are an after-the-fact explanation of this with the entire song as a protest statement against the treatment of poor people by wealthy politicians, mass incarceration, and the war in Vietnam. In the intro to his first performance of the song, Johnny Cash revealed he had talked to some of the audience members from Vanderbilt University that weekend, and was inspired to write "Man in Black," revising it a few times before the concert on Wednesday. At the end of the song he received a standing ovation.

In 1993, Spanish rock band Loquillo y Trogloditas recorded a cover of the song in Spanish for their album Mientras respiremos.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1971) Peak
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 2[citation needed]
Canadian RPM Top Singles 38[citation needed]
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[1] 3
US Billboard Hot 100[2] 58


  • Monsen, Lauren (August 28, 2006). "Music Legend Johnny Cash Attracted Worldwide Audience". U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs.
  • "Johnny Cash sings "Man In Black" for the first time (with intro)".