Johnny Cash/ Odetta/ Moby: Cut you down

“God’s gonna cut you down” is a powerful traditional song. Moralistic? Hm. I first heard it sung by Odetta on a scratchy recording from the ’60s, and she made it a woman’s moral fighting song. Then Johnny Cash changed it into a song to console a poor sinner (see the video with all those stars). Moby, on the other hand, took the original text and turned it into a little tune to dance your sins away. A kind of Sufism, maybe? Choose your poison.

Johnny Cash’s version, “God’s Gonna Cut you Down”

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the backbiter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down

Well my goodness gracious let me tell you the news
My head’s been wet with the midnight dew
I’ve been down on bended knee talkin’ to the man from Galilee
He spoke to me in the voice so sweet
I thought I heard the shuffle of the angel’s feet
He called my name and my heart stood still
When he said, “John, go do My will!”

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the backbiter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s down in the dark will be brought to the light

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut you down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut you down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut you down

Johnny Cash

Odetta

Moby

Moby’s version, “Run on”

Lord God Almighty let me tell the news
my head got wet in midnight dew
great God I been down on my bended knees
talking to a man from Galilee

Michael spoke and he sounded so sweet
I thought I heard the shuffle of angels’ feet
He put one hand upon my head
great God Almighty let me tell you what He said

Go tell that lonesome liar
go tell that midnight rider
tell the gamblin’, ramblin’ backslider
tell him God Almighty gonna cut ’em down

You might run on for a long time
run on, ducking and dodging
run on, children, for a long time
let me tell you God Almighty gonna cut you down

You might throw your rock, hide your head
work in the dark with your fellow men
sure as God made you rich and poor
you’re gonna reap just what you sow

Some people go to church just to sit in the fire
trying to make a date with a neighbor’s wife
brother let me tell you just as sure as you’re born
you better leave that woman alone

Vocabulary – Vokabeln

console a poor sinner – einen armen Sünder trösten
choose your poison – Wähle dein Lieblingsgift (ironische Aufforderung an der Bar)
midnight rider – einer der nachts Furcht und Schrecken verbreitet
rambler – Wanderer
gambler – Spieler
backbiter – Verleumder
backslider – Rückfälliger
cut down – niedermähen
shuffle – Schlürfen (Füsse)
ducking and dodging – sich ducken und aus dem Weg rennen
reap what you sow – ernten was man säht
make a date – sich privat verabreden

learning english with songs :-) englischlernen mit liedern

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Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

One thought on “Johnny Cash/ Odetta/ Moby: Cut you down”

  1. Fixing the embeds (needs to be done every couple of months) I found a great Rockabilly version of this spiritual by Elvis:

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