Go tell that long-tongued liar. #PlagueSongs, no. 25

This week’s plague song goes out to that long-tongued liar, his regime, and all who have enabled it over these past four years — whether actively or via silent complicity.

The earliest recording of the song is from the Golden Gate Quartet in 1946, but it’s been recorded in many genres, by many artists, and under several different titles.

Here’s a playlist of 22 versions, presented in approximate chronological order.

The song begins in gospel, then migrates into country, folk, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, and even heavy metal.

The most familiar voices may be those of Bill Landford and the Landfordaires (above): Moby (below) samples their 1949 recording in “Run On” (1999).

Johnny Cash’s posthumous release (2006) is the other widely known recording: The Gaslight Anthem, Marilyn Manson, Sugar + The Hi-Lows, and Youn Sun Nah all use his version of the lyrics.

My version’s arrangement borrows from the versions by The Golden Gate Quartet, Bill Landford and the Landfordaires, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Johnny Cash, and Jessye Norman.

There are many reasons for choosing “Run on for a Long Time” / “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” (to call the song by its two most frequently used titles) for this week’s Plague Song, foremost among which is its message of divine vengeance: “God Almighty’s gonna cut you down” (or “sooner or later, God’s gonna cut you down,” in Cash’s version). When Biden won and the White House’s current occupant refused to concede (abetted by the traitorous Republican Party), I found myself singing this song, and began assembling a playlist of various recordings. We face a pandemic, and the malignant narcissist who denies the science and seriousness of the virus is killing people by actively preventing Biden’s COVID-19 advisory group from accessing the government resources they need. I am angry that King Covid and his toadies are determined to kill as many people as they can.

I am not a religious person, but this song speaks the language of those hypocrites who claim a Christian affiliation and yet support an idol who embodies the seven deadly sins. If the so-called Evangelicals (White pseudo-Christians who in 2020 again supported a manifestly evil candidate) meet the judgment the Bible promises, they’re going to Hell. In the words of the song, They’re gonna reap just what they sew…. God’ll cut ’em down.

Several lyrics also echo my hope of both exposing the criminality of the regime, and having its perpetrators face legal consequences: “You may throw your rock, hide your hand, work in the dark against your fellow man,” but “what’s done in the dark will be brought to the light.”

A fourth reason for my choice is — quite obviously — that the song is about death. And we are surrounded by death. The US has just added one million new cases in a single week: As of yesterday, the US had surpassed the 11 million-case mark. At the rate we’re going, we will surpass 12 million cases in the next few days. Hospitals are overwhelmed. The winter will be dark and deadly.

Unless we change. We can mandate mask-wearing and social-distancing. Or, barring such guidance from the government, we can take responsibility for our fellow human beings and adopt these practices ourselves. We could do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Will we? I don’t know.


Want to perform a song but need ideas? The playlist below will give you many places to start.


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