The Long Black Veil Lyrics - Johnny Cash

Review The Song (15)

Ten years ago on a cold dark night,
Someone was killed 'neath the town hall light.
There were few at the scene, but they all agreed,
That the slayer who ran looked a lot like me.

Chorus ~ She walks these hills, in a long black veil.
She visits my grave, when the night winds wail.
Nobody knows, nobody sees, nobody knows, but me

The Judge said son, what is your alibi,
If you were somewhere else, then you won't have to die.
I spoke not a word, though it meant my life,
For I'd been in the arms of my best friend's wife.


Now the scaffold is high, and eternity's near.
She stood in the crowd, and shed not a tear.
But some times at night, when the cold wind moans
In a long black veil, she cries o'er my bones

Chorus ~ She walks these hills, in a long black veil.
She visits my grave when the night winds wail
Nobody knows, nobody sees.
Nobody knows, but me.

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My 2Cents | Reviewer: Ron Brooks | 3/26/12

As to the act of self-sacrifice, who would die for a woman who would not even stand up and admit her sins to save you?

The songs main character IMO, was *_in love_ with his best friends wife, therefore, he says nothing to:
a)protect her reputation, and possibly her life
b) To see if she will speak out herself, to save him, thereby proving her love for him, and by not speaking out she proves (in his mind), that she doesn't love him. He doesn't want to live if she doesn't love him too. Of course later, as a ghost, he sees by her ritual that she really loves him, but he can only wait for her now, to die.

A haunting song, Pun intended.

Another verse | Reviewer: Anonymous | 1/19/12

There is (was) a part where " She whispers my name 'neath a long black veil". I believe it was part of the chorus as opposed to another verse. But I've been listening to this type of song since before 1959, so maybe it was just anothers version.

Respect and Feeling | Reviewer: Anonymous | 10/2/11

Of course we know it could have been a disgraceful marriage and he was doing the best thing for her, but there are two things I wonder about :

- If you are able to do this to your most beloved friend, then there is no truth in this friendship at all. It's sad. This should be dealt with openly.

- As for someone's comment on respecting the cheated, lying to is not a form of protecting or even more RESPECTING someone. This kind of cheating is the ultmost betrayal, from your lover and your best mate. This is terrible, and should be something to discuss truthfully among all the involved.

Background | Reviewer: Anonymous | 8/17/11

This song was written by a song writer who read two separate news articles. One was a priest accused of murder but refused to defend himself and no one ever knew why
The other was about a woman who visited rudolph valentino's grave every friday in a long black veil and her identity was never determined.
Very creative. Check out jerry garcia's version.

Bad logic | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/10/11

If you can bang your best friends wife for no good reason, you should be able to talk about it to save your life. That's what I think. Obviously he's not that great of a best friend. He spends nights doing who knows what with who knows who, cause it aint his wife or best friend. Very seldom, in a small country town, would I be doing anything else besides being with my wife or my best friend.

Human nature | Reviewer: Pauline | 5/12/11

This type of thing has being going on since time immemorial and will continue to go on. It is human nature. We are all capable of doing the wrong thing including what these two did. We are not to judge the actions of others. It is not for us to say what is ethical for them. It is up to us to practice our own ethic only. Each person must live with their own conscience. If a persons conscience allows them to love another mans wife then it is not wrong for him. We know nothing about this particular husband wife realtionship. Maybe they should have done a three way and all would have been well.

Well ya know... | Reviewer: Italino Pietrantonio | 2/22/11

It's strange, say some, that a seventeen year old boy knows this song, but I grew up on this kind of music, and I have become a old- school country boy. I love the song. It sort of reminds me of a boy I call my great, great uncle, Clyde Barrow. Though most simply know him and his girlfriend as Bonnie and Clyde.

Older Version of Song | Reviewer: Kent Sublett | 10/21/10

The song was also recorded by country great, Lefty Frizell. I believe his recording predated Johnny Cash's and is slightly different. I've seen it on a cd but don't recall the title. I think it was something like The Best of or The Essential Lefty Frizell. I' ve always wondered about being in the arms of your best friend's wife. On the other hand it isn't the only country song with that theme. I know Kenny Rogers did one, Daytime Friends and Nighttime Lovers.

Not quite | Reviewer: Ameroux | 8/15/10

I've always loved this song and I grew up on Johnny Cash's version of it, but I remember some of these lyrics differently. I remember it as "the *killer* who ran looked a lot like me"; "she *cries* o'er my grave when the *night* winds wail". Does anyone else remember it that way? Great song. Until recently, I had thought it was probably an 18th century British folk ballad from the construction and tone of it. I was surprised to find out that it was written in 1959.

Puzzle? | Reviewer: robert Pease | 10/20/09

If I was at the home of my Best Friend's wife, I would have a good Alibi:

" Mary and I were there all that evening, doing a tough Jigsaw Puzzle.".. it works for me. / rap

( I heard this song by June Carter Cash on Prairie Home Companion on Saturday evening, and I hadn't heard it for many years. I didn't hear it in my head on Sunday or Monday, but I woke with this monstrous ear-worm on Tuesday morning. Ripped my guts out. /rap

hits home | Reviewer: jess | 10/2/09

this song my father sang my my entire life. and I belieive as others have sad before me it may be he in fact had some skeletons in his closet. he also wanted me to admire and appreciate such great music, lyrics, and hits home moreso to me now...because it reminds me of a man i dated for a while....while he was in and between a relationship with another... we both knew what we had and what we had was more amazing then her and him... what made it that much more meaningful was that alot of what we had was kept secret. many can say i was wrong...but i followed my heart and we were ment to be he has died..he sufered 104 strokes...this after we stopped talking--because my guilt got the best of me and i made him go back to her...he never said a bad word about me...on top of the fact that i actually was his best friends wife...and had recently split with his best friend...he kept his silence.... until the day he died..and i kept alot of mine too..and now i cry in silence...and nobody knows but me.... and u all now. :'( this song,. breaks my heart over and over again. I miss him.

lullaby | Reviewer: Anonymous | 9/14/09

my father sang this song to me and my brother from the time i was an infant to the time i was in grade school. I never really gave it mich thought but my father may have had some skeletons in his closet.. or he may have just really like the song and wanted his sons to appreciate the music as well. Either way it remains and always will remain one of my all time favorite songs. in fact i will be singing it to my son as a lullaby

Keeping silence | Reviewer: kc | 9/8/09

The song doesn't say that *she* refused to speak up. It says *he* "said not a word". Meaning either that he was protecting his reputation (and/or his best friend, from the knowledge of betrayal), or protecting her.

Maybe her husband would have killed her for her infidelity. There have been plenty of times and cultures where the accepted social mores would have been for the husband to do his best to kill both the wife and her lover.

As for why he was in her arms -- marriage and love haven't always been what they are today and history and legend provide many examples of couples who had affairs while loving and/or respecting the cheated spouse.

Ethics | Reviewer: Anonymous | 8/11/08

I have always loved this song, but as to the ethical question, ethics are for the living. There are no ethics when you are dead. Just bones.

Or are we discussing the woman's ethics? I think they are utterly disgraceful.

As to the act of self-sacrifice, who would die for a woman who would not even stand up and admit her sins to save you? It is a wonderful dilemma that the song provides us, isn't it?

The long Black Veil | Reviewer: Nancy McCauley | 6/29/05

My Ethics teacher sang this song in class today and then posed the question; Was what he did (kept silent and died)the ethical thing to do in the eyes of a Formalist? What about the eyes of a Utilitarian? Any thoughts or comments on this would be greatly received.

I like the song very much but, one has to ask.............. If you considered this man to be your best friend,why were you in the arms of his wife?

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------ Performed by Johnny Cash

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