January 15

“Hurt:” Originally by Nine Inch Nails, Covered by Johnny Cash


Hurting oneself because of frustration, disappointment, or depression is the theme of Johnny Cash’s song “Hurt.” He recorded the song months before his death. It became popular in 2003 when he released it as a single from his album American IV: The Man Comes Around. When Cash recorded the song, he received numerous accolades. Furthermore, it has reached number fifty-six on the Billboard country chart. This marked his last song on the country chart. Cash’s version also won the CMA’s Single of the Year, and he was nominated for the MTV Video Music Awards.

The Original Version of “Hurt”

black and white photo of the band Nine Inch Nails
Photo Credit: Nine Inch Nails/ Official Facebook Page

This poignant song full of heavy emotions was not first recorded by Johnny Cash. The song “Hurt” was written by the band leader of Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor wrote the song in 1994 and recorded with his band for their album The Downward Spiral. Their song was nominated for the Best Rock Song in the 1996 Grammy Award. Reznor considers this to be a very personal song, that when he found out Cash covered the song, he felt unsure and invaded.

“I listened to it and it was very strange. It was this other person inhabiting my most personal song. Hearing it was like someone kissing your girlfriend. It felt invasive.”

Trent Reznor Interview for The Sun

It was when he saw the music video of Cash that Reznor finally realize that the song was meant to be covered by Cash.

The band’s version of the song reached number eight on the Billboard Alternative Rock songs. Furthermore, it also entered the same category on the Canadian chart. Reznor wrote the song while he was living temporarily at the home of the late actress Sharon Tate.

The Music Video

If you haven’t seen Cash’s video of “Hurt” yet, you must watch it. It will surely move you to tears as you watch how vulnerable, and authentic Cash was in the video. It was directed by Mark Romanek. The footage was taken at the House of Cash Museum.



Hurt, Johnny Cash, Nine Inch Nails

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