Hurt (Nine Inch Nails song)
|Single by Nine Inch Nails|
|from the album The Downward Spiral|
|Released||April 17, 1995|
|Nine Inch Nails singles chronology|
"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 ultimately lost to Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know". In 2002, "Hurt" was covered by country music star Johnny Cash to commercial and critical acclaim. It attracted praise from Reznor for its "sincerity and meaning" while ending up being one of Cash's final hits released before his death, the related music video being considered one of the greatest of all time by publications such as NME.
- 1 Song
- 2 Personnel
- 3 Original Nine Inch Nails single
- 4 Johnny Cash version
- 5 Other cover versions
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
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.
Original Nine Inch Nails single
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.
|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|
|Canada Alternative Songs (RPM)||8|
|U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks||8|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Airplay||54|
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.
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.
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.
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
The song appears in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets and the Season 2 Rick and Morty finale episode entitled "The Wedding Squanchers." The song was also used in the film The Hangover Part III. On January 9, 1995, Howard Stern named it his "Song of the Year" for 1994.
Johnny Cash version
|Single by Johnny Cash|
|from the album American IV: The Man Comes Around|
|B-side||"Personal Jesus"/"Wichita Lineman"|
|Johnny Cash singles chronology|
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. The cover was released on a single with the B-side 'Personal Jesus', a cover of the Depeche Mode single.
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.
The music video was directed by former NIN collaborator 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. According to literature professor Leigh H. Edwards, the music video portrays "Cash's own paradoxical themes".
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); 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.
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.
In popular culture
This version was used in the movies Colombiana and Inside I'm Dancing 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. Sky Sports used a section of this version in a montage of the 2013–14 Ashes series following England's 5-0 defeat by Australia. 
- 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 March 2016, the single occupies the number nine spot on Rate Your Music's Top Singles of the 2000s. The song is also Cash's sole chart entry on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, where it hit #33 in 2003. In June 2009, the song was voted #1 in UpVenue's Top 10 Best Music Covers.
- "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. Justin Timberlake, who won Best Male 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."
- 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.
- 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".
|U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks||33|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs||56|
Other cover versions
- Tori Amos, who had a close friendship with Reznor in 1990s, occasionally covers the song live.
- Leona Lewis covered the song on her 2011 EP, Hurt: The EP.
- The cello duo 2Cellos released a rendition of the song on its self-titled 2011 album, based on Johnny Cash's version.
- Sevendust's live cover of the song was featured on their 2004 live album, Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live.
- Gregorian released a Gregorian chant-inspired cover of the song on its 2004 album, The Dark Side.
- Hardcore band Hundredth released a cover on their 2011 EP Let Go.
- Jean-Marc Lederman's musical project La Femme Verte recorded a cover on its 2010 album Small Distortions, with Julianne Regan on vocals, using the lyrics rewritten for Johnny Cash's version.
- Edwards 2009, pp. 59–60
- Lewis, Luke (March 5, 2009). "Release The Bats - It's The 20 Greatest Goth Tracks". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
- Huxley (1997), p. 104
- "RPM - Alternative 30". RPM (magazine). Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- "Nine Inch Nails - Alternative Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
- "Nine Inch Nails - Radio Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
- Top Ten Most Depressing Alternative Rock Songs Retrieved 5 January 2015
- The Best Ever Acoustic Rock Songs: Top 40 Retrieved 20 October 2014
- "NME names Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' the greatest music video of all time". NME. July 5, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- Alternative Press #194. September 2004.
- "Director Mark Romanek Tackles 'Never Let Me Go'". Fresh Air. September 23, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
- Binelli, Mark (February 20, 2003). "Johnny Cash Makes 'Em Hurt". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
- "Johnny Cash, 'Hurt' & Trent Reznor". Stagepass News. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- Levy, Glen (July 28, 2011). "The 30 All-TIME Best Music Videos - Johnny Cash, Hurt". Time. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "100 Greatest Music Videos". NME. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- "Fire destroys Johnny Cash home". BBC News. April 11, 2007. Retrieved August 23, 2009.
- "Top Singles of the 2000s". Rate Your Music. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
- Billboard - Artist Chart History - Johnny Cash
- "UpVenue's Top 10 Best Music Covers". Retrieved August 23, 2009.
- "Johnny Cash - Memories Shared". Songstuff. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
- "Quotables "August 29, 2003 Justin Timberlake on Johnny Cash"". Retrieved April 5, 2014.
- "Sky News 03/05/2010". News.sky.com. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- "150 Best Tracks Of The Past 15 Years". Nme.Com. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- "Johnny Cash - Alternative Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
- "Johnny Cash - Hot Country Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
- Hogan, Marc (August 8, 2014). "Watch Tori Amos’ Thrilling Nine Inch Nails Cover". Wondering Sound. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- O'Brien, Jon. "2Cellos - 2Cellos". Allmusic. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- Loftus, Johnny. "Sevendust - Southside Double-Wide: Acoustic Live". Allmusic. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- "Gregorian - The Dark Side". Allmusic. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- "Digital Tributes Honor Virginia Tech Victims". KDKA-TV. April 18, 2007.
- Anthony DeCurtis (June 7, 2005). "In Other Words: Trent Reznor". Rolling Stone.