Two decades have passed since we lost Johnny Cash. Back in the day, the Man In Black’s remorselessly sparse 2002 cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt and its accompanying video made the fans take notice of the country legend.
Hurt originally debuted on Nine Inch Nails’ 1994 album The Downward Spiral, before Cash performed it on the 4th of his epic American Recording series of albums, under the guidance of uber-producer Rick Rubin.
In 2008, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor spoke to British tabloid The Sun about his first hearing of Cash’s spine-tinglingly emotive version.
“I said I’d be very flattered but was given no indication it would actually be recorded.
“Two weeks went by. Then I got a CD in the post. I listened to it and it was very strange. It was this other person inhabiting my most personal song.
“I’d known where I was when I wrote it. I know what I was thinking about. I know how I felt. Hearing it was like someone kissing your girlfriend. It felt invasive.”
It was the moving video, though, that made it all fall into place for the Nine Inch Nails star:
“It really, really made sense and I thought what a powerful piece of art.
“I never got to meet Johnny but I’m happy I contributed the way I did. It felt like a warm hug. I have goosebumps right now thinking about it.
“Having Johnny Cash, one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time, want to cover your song, that’s something that matters to me. It’s not so much what other people think but the fact that this guy felt that it was worthy of interpreting.
“He said afterwards it was a song that sounds like one he would have written in the ’60s and that’s wonderful”.