How Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around" became the soundtrack to a ''Blacklist'' murder spree

By Jodi Walker
January 30, 2014 at 05:00 AM EST
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There’s a man goin’ round takin’ names/And he decides who to free and who to blame. In The Blacklist‘s Jan. 13 episode — which saw James Spader’s criminal mastermind ruthlessly dispatch his assailants — those lyrics became Red Reddington’s battle cry. Exec producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath explain how the moment came together.

The Inspiration “We first thought [‘The Man Comes Around’] would be a great tune to end the pilot. Unfortunately, other than a couple of chords, you wouldn’t hear any of the actual song. We nearly used it in the second episode when Red comes out of the prison ship, but we ended up using a remix of ‘Sympathy for the Devil.'”

Spader’s Influence “After Red was tortured by Alan Alda’s character, our instinct was to be done with [the story]. But [Spader] was insistent that the people who had gotten away with this needed to be dealt with. When we realized there were so many loose ends to tie up, it felt like that sequence needed to become a montage, and we needed a song.”

Pulling the Trigger “We were going to use ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’ for Red’s scene, and we had ‘The Man Comes Around’ placed over the suffocation of Newton Phillips [Charles Baker] until the day before the mix. I never thought we could use the opening where Johnny Cash is reading Scripture. But when we looked at the scene, and Red is sitting in a mortuary looking at Luli’s [Deborah S. Craig] body, filled with rage…all of a sudden it just made sense.”

Episode Recaps

James Spader returns as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.
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  • 09/23/13
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