Did You Know This Johnny Cash Song Was Inspired by Queen Elizabeth II?
Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96 on Thursday, Sept. 8, ending her 70-year-long reign as monarch of the United Kingdom and its 14 Commonwealth realms. As the world reflects on the historical events and notable achievements that occurred during her time on the throne, let's take a look at the unexpected connection between country legend Johnny Cash and the late Queen.
In 2002, Cash released his celebrated album American IV: The Man Comes Around, which served as an especially powerful and emotionally-charged marker in his career's final chapter.
The record's title track, "The Man Comes Around," was actually inspired by an especially affecting dream that Cash had. During his slumber, the country star found himself inside London's Buckingham Palace and face-to-face with Queen Elizabeth II, who relayed a mysterious message.
"There she sat on the floor and she looked up at me and said, 'Johnny Cash, you’re like a thorn tree in a whirlwind,'” Cash said, recalling the details of his dream to Larry King during a 2002 interview. He awoke just moment later, but the Queen's mysterious message lingered in his mind.
"I woke up and thought, what could a dream like this mean? I forgot about it for two or three years, but it kept haunting me," he explained. "I kept thinking about how vivid it was. I thought maybe it was biblical."
Soon after, Cash discovered a reference to thorn trees in the Book of Job, leading him to pen a moody folk ballad based on the Book of Revelation. And just like that, a lingering dream turned into "The Man Comes Around," which Cash also referred to as his "song of the apocalypse."
Just a few months after the song's release, Cash died of complications from diabetes after being admitted to Nashville’s Baptist Hospital. He was 71 years old.
This wasn't the only time that Cash used imagery from his dreams as lyrical inspiration, but "The Man Comes Around" serves as an especially timely and surprising example of his legendary songwriting talents.