Posted on November 25, 2014 by Trace

 —  J u k e b o x  —  
‘ H U R T ‘
a song written by Trent Reznor, first released on
Nine Inch Nails’ 1994 album
‘The Downward Spiral’.

In 2002 ‘H U R T’ was covered by JOHNNY CASH
to critical acclaim; it was one of Cash’s final hit releases before his death.
The song clearly includes references to self-harm and heroin addiction, although the overall meaning of the song is disputed. 

103947-johnny_cash_617_409 50786-JOHNNY_CASH_04When Trent Reznor [of Nine Inch Nails] was asked if Cash could cover his song, Reznor said he was “flattered” but worried that “the idea sounded a bit gimmicky.”

He became a fan of Cash’s version, however, once he saw the music video. He said —

“I pop the video in, and 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.”

In the Cash version, the line “crown of shit” was changed to “crown of thorns”, not only removing profanity from the lyrics, but also more directly referencing Christ and Cash’s devout Christianity.
Its accompanying video, featuring images from Cash’s life and directed by Mark Romanek, was named the best video of the year by the Grammy Awards. [see Nine Inch Nails version h e r e]

The cover was released on a single with the B-side ‘Personal Jesus’, a cover of the Depeche Mode single, see it h e r e 

Cash.HandsomeCitizensThe music video was directed by Mark Romanek who sought to capture the essence of Cash, both in his youth and in his older years. In a montage of shots of Cash’s early years, twisted imagery of fruit and flowers in various states of decay, seem to capture both his legendary past and the stark and seemingly cruel reality of the present. 

johnny_cash.handsomecitizensCash was 71 years of age at the time of filming [in February 2003], he had serious health problems and his frailty is clearly evident in the video.

229731237485-johnny-cash-hurt_music_video_ovHe died seven months later [September 12]. His wife, June Carter Cash, who participated in the video, died three months after filming [May 15], closely preceding him in death.

Romanek had this to say about his decision to focus on the House of Cash museum in Nashville –

“It had been closed for a long time; the place was in such a state of dereliction. That’s when I got the idea that maybe we could be extremely candid about the state of Johnny’s health, as candid as Johnny has always been in his songs.”

johnny-cash-bdayThe house where Cash’s music video for ‘Hurt’ was shot, which was Cash’s home for nearly 30 years, was destroyed in a fire, 2007.

“Hurt” was nominated for six VMAs at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. It only won one, Best Cinematography.

Johnny Cash became the oldest artist ever nominated for an MTV Video Music Award.

jekyll.cash.handsomecitizensJustin Timberlake, who won Best Video that year for ‘Cry Me a River’, said in his acceptance speech:

“This is a travesty! I demand a recount. My grandfather raised me on Johnny Cash, and I think he deserves this more than any of us in here tonight.”

Rolling Stone ranked Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’ as number 15 of the 50 best songs of the decade.

If you haven’t watched the movie of Cash’s life ‘Walk The Line’, portrayed brilliantly by Joaquin Pheonix — take a look at the trailer here and promptly get yourself up to date with the Legend that was Johnny, as he walks the line between destruction and redemption; the talent, the pain, the turmoil, the HURT.

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