This video has been making the rounds. “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” is one of the last songs sung by Johnny Cash (a fav of this blog), and the video—arranged by Justin Timberlake and British film director Tony Kaye—was arranged as a tribute to the Man in Black. According to the Times Online:
Artists dropped everything when the call to participate from Kaye came through. They were told simply to wear black and interpret the song in whatever way they felt channelled the outlaw spirit of Cash. Each star would be limited to a five-second appearance.
The three-minute video has cameos by 36 celebrities (you can find the list at the end of the Times article). The song is one of Cash’s last, off the American V album. From the info I found online, it’s a traditional spiritual. The lyrics, at least to me, portent a song of the prophets of old (from Jeremiah to John the Baptist), a song pronouncing coming judgment and the call for sinners to repent.
Heh, more than one blogger I read (first According to Paul via Elliot and then Mir) have noted the, well, shall-we-say "disconnect" between many of the celebrities and the lyrics to the song. Mir ponders it best:
The dialogue intro explains that Johnny identified with the "poor and downtrodden." Then the video parades a bunch of pampered, ridiculously rich celebs. Is this supposed to be ironic? A social statement? Do the celebrities understand the sort of judgment that is implied by the juxtaposition of lyrics and imagery?
Stuff like this not only draws my attention to the blatent disconnect evident in popular culture but causes me to examine where a culture like this might influence my own life. Good art does that. And ultimately, I think it's Cash who gets the last word here--like most good poets who create good art.