Watch Series | Saison 2 | Fantasy (Books)
{{:: 'cloud_flare_always_on_short_message' | i18n }}
Check @genius for updates. We'll have things fixed soon.

About “Hurt”

This song, originally written and performed by Nine Inch Nails, is of disputed meaning: is it about self harm, doing heroin, or both? Either way, no matter if it reflects Cash’s addiction issues, or suicidal thoughts, it’s one of Cash’s classics. Johnny decided to change just one line, possibly reflecting his Christian faith.

The song was recommended to Cash by legendary producer, Rick Rubin, who produced Johnny Cash’s American series (and released them on his label American Recordings). When Trent Reznor was asked if the song could be covered he said he was:

flattered [but worried that] the idea sounded a bit gimmicky.

However, after watching the video:

Wow. Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore… It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure.

The song was released as a single in March 2003, along with “Personal Jesus,” a Depeche Mode cover. It was the last single released by Cash before his death in September 2003. Cash saw it hit #33 on the Billboard “Alternative Songs” chart, and #56 on its Hot Country Charts, 48 years after his Cry! Cry! Cry! first hit the US Country chart.

The music video becomes even more harrowing when one realises that June Carter Cash, Johnny’s wife, died only three months after it was made, and that the house it was filmed in (the Cash residence for 30 years) later burned down.

  • Where have I heard this recently?

    You have probably watched the first trailer for the new Wolverine movie, Logan.

  • What have the artists said about the song?

    Rick Rubin told Rolling Stone,

    Johnny and I would make collections of songs as possible covers for him to sing, and we’d send them to each other. “Hurt” was one that I sent. There were maybe 20 songs including that one on the mix I made, and it wasn’t one that he responded to. But I had a strong feeling about it, so on the next compilation, I included that one again. Because of the way the Nine Inch Nails song sounds, I think it was hard for him to hear it. So I sent him the lyrics, and I said, “Just read the lyrics. If you like the lyrics, then we’ll find a way to do it that will suit you.”

    He listened to it with the lyrics sheet and said, “If you feel strongly about this, we can try it.” We recorded at my house in Los Angeles. We built all of it from scratch. It’s an acoustic song, so it was recorded as a smaller acoustic song than it ended up becoming, and through overdubs, we built all the drama that’s in the song to support the power of the words and the way Johnny was delivering them.

    He was at a time where his health was failing, and I tried to pick songs that made sense lyrically for the way his voice was sounding. There were times when his voice sounded broken. He tried to turn that into a positive in the selection of the music. He was awfully troubled by the way his voice was sounding. A lot of times during the process, he would be down on himself. He could always rely on his voice, and at this stage he couldn’t. It was a real struggle for him. But then, when we put everything together and it was done, he would love it.

    This is another song where I can’t think of the song without seeing the video. The first time I saw it, I just cried. It really upset me. It’s a really beautiful piece of art and I’m proud of him for letting people see it. When his management first saw they were like, “Nobody can ever see this.” And it was really Rosanne [Cash], his daughter, that made the case to Johnny that, “You’re an artist — this is what you do, and you have to show this.” He was like, “You’re right.” He agreed. And the video came out. She was the one.

  • What are some figurative language on this song?

    Ask someone to name a song that always has the power to reduce them to tears, and the chances are they’ll swiftly reply “Johnny Cash – Hurt.”

    Most people know that it was originally a Nine Inch Nails song (excellent in its own right), but exactly how the cover and its iconic music video were put together only adds to its resonance.

    When asked if Cash could take on the song, NIN’s Trent Reznor at first said he was “flattered”, but worried that “the idea sounded a bit gimmicky” (his opinion would massively change, but we’ll get to that).

    USThe Independent
    Bombing in Baluchistan province most deadly attack in Pakistan in more than three years and is third incident of election-related violence this week