Hurt (Nine Inch Nails song)

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"Hurt"
Single by Nine Inch Nails
from the album The Downward Spiral
Released April 17, 1995
Format Promotional CD
Recorded Le Pig, Record Plant Studios, A&M Studios
Genre Industrial rock,[1] gothic rock[2]
Length 6:12
Label Nothing, Interscope
Writer(s) Trent Reznor
Producer(s) Trent Reznor
Nine Inch Nails singles chronology
"Piggy"
(1994)
"Hurt"
(1995)
""The Perfect Drug" Versions"
(1997)

"Hurt" is a song written by Trent Reznor, first released on Nine Inch Nails' 1994 album The Downward Spiral. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Song in 1996 but lost to Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know". In 2002, "Hurt" was covered by Johnny Cash to critical acclaim; it was one of Cash's final hit releases before his death.

Song[edit]

Originally recorded by Nine Inch Nails, the song "Hurt" has been adapted and covered by several artists, including Johnny Cash and Leona Lewis. The song clearly includes references to self-harm and heroin addiction, although the overall meaning of the song is disputed. Some listeners contend that the song acts as a suicide note written by the album's protagonist, as a result of his depression, while others claim that it describes the difficult process of finding a reason to live in spite of depression and pain.[3]

Nine Inch Nails original[edit]

A promotional single was distributed in April 1995, containing censored and uncensored mixes. The disc, Interscope Records PRCD 6179, is labeled 'Halo Ten', like the earlier 'Piggy' promotional disc. Neither is considered an official Halo, Further Down the Spiral being the official Halo Ten.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Hurt (Quiet version)" (Clean) 5:04
2. "Hurt (Live version)" (Clean) 5:15
3. "Hurt (Album version)" (Clean) 6:20
4. "Hurt (Quiet version)" (Soiled) 5:21
5. "Hurt (Live version)" (Soiled) 5:15
6. "Hurt (Album version)" (Soiled) 6:14

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1995) Peak
position
Canada Alternative Songs (RPM)[citation needed] 8
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[4] 8
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay[5] 54

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Hurt" is a live performance that appears on Closure and the DualDisc re-release of The Downward Spiral. The audio portion appears on the UK version of Further Down the Spiral. The version released on Closure differs slightly from the video originally aired on MTV. In addition to using an uncensored audio track, the Closure edit shows alternate views of the audience and performance at several points during the video.

To film the video, a scrim was dropped in front of the band on stage, onto which various images, such as war atrocities, a nuclear bomb test, survivors of the Battle of Stalingrad, a snake staring at the camera, and a time-lapse film of a fox decomposing in reverse, were projected, adding visual symbolism to fit the song's subject matter. A spotlight was cast on Reznor so that he can be seen through the images. Compared to the live renditions performed on future tours, this version most resembles the studio recording with its use of the song's original samples.[citation needed]

There are also official live recordings on the later releases And All that Could Have Been and Beside You in Time. Each version features distinct instrumentation by the varying members of the band in the respective eras.

Live performance[edit]

During the Dissonance tour in 1995, when Nine Inch Nails opened for David Bowie, Bowie sang "Hurt" in a duet with Reznor, backed by an original melody and beat. This served as the conclusion to the dual act that began each Bowie set.

During the Fragility tours, the progression was performed by Robin Finck on acoustic guitar rather than on piano.

Since the 2005–06 Live: With Teeth tour, Nine Inch Nails has been playing "Hurt" in a more toned-down style, featuring only Reznor on keyboard and vocals until the final chorus, when the rest of the band joins in.

The song was brought back to its original form during the Lights In The Sky tour in 2008, before returning to the toned down style on the 2009 Wave Goodbye tour.

In popular culture[edit]

The song appears on an episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets. The song was also used in the film The Hangover Part III.

Johnny Cash version[edit]

"Hurt"
Single by Johnny Cash
from the album American IV: The Man Comes Around
B-side "Personal Jesus"
"Wichita Lineman"
Released March 2003
Format CD single
Recorded 2002
Genre Acoustic rock,[6] country
Length 3:38
Label American Recordings, Universal Music Group
Producer(s) Rick Rubin
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Johnny Cash singles chronology
"The Man Comes Around"
(2002)
"Hurt"
(2003)
"God's Gonna Cut You Down"
(2006)
Music video
"Hurt" on YouTube

In 2002, Johnny Cash covered the song for his album, American IV: The Man Comes Around. 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 and CMA Awards, and the best video of all time by NME in July 2011.[7] The cover was released on a single with the B-side 'Personal Jesus', a cover of the Depeche Mode single.

Background[edit]

When Trent Reznor 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.

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.[8]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by former NIN collaborator Mark Romanek[9] 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. According to literature professor Leigh H. Edwards, the music video portrays "Cash's own paradoxical themes".[1]

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.

71 years of age at the time of filming (in February 2003), Cash had serious health problems and his frailty is clearly evident in the video. He died seven months later (September 12);[10] his wife, June Carter Cash, who participated in the video (she is shown gazing at her husband in several sequences), died three months after filming (May 15), closely preceding him in death.

In July 2011, the music video was named one of "The 30 All-TIME Best Music Videos" by Time.[11] It was ranked the greatest music video of all time by NME.[12]

The house where Cash's music video for 'Hurt' was shot, which was Cash's home for nearly 30 years, was destroyed in a fire on April 10, 2007.[13]

In popular culture[edit]

The version was used in the movie Colombiana as well as in several TV series, including Criminal Minds ("Elephant's Memory"), Smallville ("Shattered"), Person of Interest ("The Devil's Share"), and Parashat Ha-Shavua ("BeShalach"). It has also been used in documentaries, such as Why We Fight.[14]

The song was also used in the trailer for the 2012 video game Prototype 2.

The song appears in The Hangover Part III, albeit in two forms. The Cash version is performed by the character Leslie Chow in a karaoke bar, while the original Reznor version appears in the final scene of the movie where upon Alan and Chow say their goodbyes.

The song was sampled in the Westside Connection song The Gangsta, The Killa And The Dope Dealer.

The song was used in a video tribute to Eddie Guerrero on the November 14th, 2005 episode of WWE Monday Night Raw. Eddie had died of heart failure the day before.[15]

The song was covered by Sevendust on their Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live album.

Awards[edit]

  • The Johnny Cash cover was given the Country Music Association award for "Single of the Year" in 2003. It ranked as CMT's top video for 2003, #1 on CMT's 100 Greatest Country Music Videos the following year, and #1 on the Top 40 Most Memorable Music Videos on MuchMoreMusic's Listed in October 2007. As of January 2011, the single occupies the number one spot on Rate Your Music's Top Singles of the 2000s.[16] The song is also Cash's sole chart entry on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, where it hit #33 in 2003.[17] In June 2009, the song was voted #1 in UpVenue's Top 10 Best Music Covers.[18]
  • "Hurt" was nominated for six VMAs at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. The only VMA the video won was that for Best Cinematography. With the video, Johnny Cash became the oldest artist ever nominated for an MTV Video Music Award.[19] Justin Timberlake, who won Best Video that year for "Cry Me a River", a song on his Justified, 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."[20]
  • The music video won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.
  • In July 2009, Cash's version of 'Hurt' was voted in at number 60 on Triple J's Hottest 100 of all time, Australia's largest music poll.
  • Rolling Stone ranked Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' as number 15 of the 50 best songs of the decade (RS 1094/1095).
  • In May 2010, 'Hurt' was voted the fifth most influential video of all time by MySpace.[21]
  • CMT had it ranked as the number 2 song of the decade on their November 13 show 'Songs of the Decade'.
  • In October 2011, NME placed it at number 35 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[22]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Hurt" – 3:38
  2. "Personal Jesus" – 3:21
  3. "Wichita Lineman" – 3:06

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2003) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[23] 33
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs[24] 54

Other notable covers[edit]

British singer Leona Lewis covered the song and included it on her first EP, Hurt: The EP.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Edwards 2009, pp. 59–60
  2. ^ Lewis, Luke (March 5, 2009). "Release The Bats - It's The 20 Greatest Goth Tracks". Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  3. ^ Huxley (1997), p. 104
  4. ^ "Nine Inch Nails - Alternative Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Nine Inch Nails - Radio Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  6. ^ The Best Ever Acoustic Rock Songs: Top 40 Retrieved 20 October 2014
  7. ^ "NME names Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' the greatest music video of all time". NME. July 5, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2011. 
  8. ^ Alternative Press #194. September 2004.
  9. ^ "Director Mark Romanek Tackles 'Never Let Me Go'". Fresh Air. September 23, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Johnny Cash, 'Hurt' & Trent Reznor". Stagepass News. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  11. ^ Levy, Glen (July 28, 2011). "The 30 All-TIME Best Music Videos - Johnny Cash, Hurt". Time. Retrieved August 19, 2011. 
  12. ^ "100 Greatest Music Videos". NME. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "Fire destroys Johnny Cash home". BBC News. April 11, 2007. Retrieved August 23, 2009. 
  14. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0143599/#soundtrack2000
  15. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyrYkvC0nZs
  16. ^ "Top Singles of the 2000s". Rate Your Music. Retrieved September 17, 2009. 
  17. ^ Billboard - Artist Chart History - Johnny Cash
  18. ^ "UpVenue's Top 10 Best Music Covers". Retrieved August 23, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Johnny Cash - Memories Shared". Songstuff. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Quotables "August 29, 2003 Justin Timberlake on Johnny Cash"". Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Sky News 03/05/2010". News.sky.com. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  22. ^ "150 Best Tracks Of The Past 15 Years". Nme.Com. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Johnny Cash - Alternative Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Johnny Cash - Hot Country Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2013. 
  25. ^ "First Listen: Leona Lewis – Hurt: The EP". Pop On And On. December 9, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2011. 

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]