The liner notes for Murder Ballads point out that the phrase "red right hand" is from a line in John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost that refers to divine vengeance. The opening song on the album, "Song of Joy," states of a murderer: "It seems he has done many, many more, / quotes John Milton on the walls in the victim's blood. / The police are investigating at tremendous cost. / In my house he wrote 'his red right hand'. / That, I'm told, is from Paradise Lost."
The aforementioned appearance in Paradise Lost (Book II, 170-174) is: "What if the breath that kindled those grim fires, / Awaked, should blow them into sevenfold rage, / And plunge us in the flames; or from above / Should intermitted vengeance arm again / His red right hand to plague us?".
The term itself appears to be Milton's translation of the term "rubente dextera" in Horace's Ode i.2,2-3
The song was used in the South Australian Tourism Board's Barossa Valley television commercial campaign, Barossa, Be Consumed, directed by Jeffrey Darling.
The song was used by New York design firm GrandArmy in a promotional clip for the Mexican tequila company El Jimador.
Nick Cave recorded another version, sometimes referred to as "Red Right Hand 2", for Scream 3 (2000) and released it on his B-Sides & Rarities (2005) album.
The song was used in the 1994 The X-Files episode "Ascension", playing during Duane Barry's car ride, with Dana Scully in the trunk. In the liner notes for the compilation album, Songs in the Key of X: Music from and Inspired by the X-Files (1996) The X-Files producer Chris Carter explained that the song was the direct inspiration for the anthology.
The song was used in promos for the UK television show Hollyoaks, during "Fire Week" in 2010.
The song was the main theme song for ABC ( Australian ) television program Jack Irish, starring Guy Pearce.
English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys performed a cover of "Red Right Hand" during their tour of Australia in early 2009, their performance in the Reading and Leeds Festival in August 2009, as well as in their North American tour in December 2009. A recorded version of the song appears on the Japanese version of their third album, Humbug (2009) and as a b-side on the single "Crying Lightning" (2009).
Australian jazz musician Frank Bennett recorded a lounge version of the song for his album, Five O'Clock Shadow (1996)
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