Nine Inch Nails Vs Johnny Cash – which version of Hurt is better?

Nine Inch Nails Hurt single cover artwork

Ladies and gentlemen, your seats please. The fight is on. We’re about to enter a world of Hurt. But which version of the legendary song is best? Time for Nine Inch Nails Vs Johnny Cash.

Have you ever had a really terrible day, the kind of day where you feel so completely alone? Your friends have taken the face of enemies. Everything you believed in seems to have disappeared. It doesn’t seem possible that anyone could ever relate to your misery. No one else has ever been this sad, been this lonely.

Then, your playlist lands on Hurt and you’re no longer alone.

Hurt is a perfect storm of musical talents combined to make a song so strong it will either break your heart, or fix a broken one. A song of that power and magnitude is rare.

The writing credits to Hurt belong to Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails; the song was first introduced to the world in 1994 on the album The Downward Spiral. NIN’s version is heavy, and takes you to drug induced haze. It is a man desperate, lost in the world of drugs – stuck reliving his hurts with an addiction. This version has so much intensity, and so much emotion in Reznor’s voice.

In 2002, Cash covered Hurt and Reznor was in awe and announced in Rolling Stone magazine that Hurt belonged to Cash. Country singer Johnny Cash covering a Nine Inch Nails song is so odd that it’s perfect. In 2011 NME named the music video for Cash’s Hurt the best video of all time. The video captures the essence of the song perfectly; Cash’s life is explored with flashbacks of the past, and images of his present self in 2002. The video depicts a great long life, filled with pain, love and regret.

 

I have outmost respect for Reznor for writing such a timeless song that has transcended genres and generations to allow for reinterpretation and multiple meanings for different musicians and listeners. That is the mark of a great songwriter. The Nine Inch Nails version has an entirely different connotation that speaks to a different audience. NIN’s version speaks primarily of self-loathing, self-harm, and drug addiction while Cash focuses on the universal feeling of pain and deep sadness that makes you hurt. Cash has a tone of redemption; he is a man that is at the end of his life that is sending out a message to make life beautiful, and not to have regrets.

It’s amazing how artists can interpret songs so differently and bring a whole new meaning to the same lyrics. The only changes to the lyrics Cash made were the removal of profanity, to reflect more on Cash’s devout Christianity. It’s shocking, how the absence of just a few words made for an entirely different song. That’s the art and beauty of music; just as no one sees a painting the same way, we all feel music differently.

Cash’s rendition of Hurt is haunting. It was recorded shortly before Cash’s untimely death, which makes it even more evocative and striking. The power of the song lies within its intoxicating tone, as soon as you hear the first bar, the song has you. You are taken into a world of extreme sadness, into a world meeting its end. You meet a man looking for redemption, to change his life—but it is too late. He would give everything up to go back and do it all over, simply to live his life, to have more time. The chance to correct wrong doings in the past, but he’s trapped in his “empire of dirt”. It’s his own hell created by his own hand.

He indulged in drugs, suffered the repercussions and the “hurt” his choices inflicted to those around him. Every action, every decision led to pain, whether it be to himself or those he loved. He is lost so deep in sadness that “pain is the only thing that’s real.”

Although it was tragedy that inspired him, it was tragedy that robbed him of his happiness and faith in himself. There is no interpretation needed to decipher the fact that Cash is an obvious creative artist and intensely deep-thinker. He reflects not only on the sadness of his life, but of sadness itself. The sadness of a lifetime of memories that will vanish. Cash implies that life is fleeting; everything that we endure or experience is temporal. The world will still continue on, with or without us. This thought is so intense and heavy, the lyrics haunt you and make you wonder: “what have I become?”

 

Some may say this song reads like a suicide note, with notes on depression. If you look deeper, you will find this song is a message of wanted hope, someone finding a reason to live. A man so lost in his sadness he feels the world is moving by as he stands still.

We can all relate to loneliness, to feeling left behind, “you are someone else, I am still right here,” this haunting verse makes you think deeper into your life, and the root of your own sadness. Actions done by others that you deem as unforgivable may need to be forgiven in order for you to find your own peace, to rid your heart of pain. Feeling “Hurt” is not always by actions from your own hand; sometimes it’s the choices of those around you that trap you into their downward spiral, where you are brought into their “empire of dirt”.

Cash’s rendition makes you re-think your judgment of yourself and others. Everyone gets lost, but it doesn’t mean there is not still time for a second chance, an opportunity to “start again” and “find a way”. In such sadness and despair, hope can be found. No one is ever truly a lost cause; hope should never be written off and disregarded. We have one life; Hurt reinforces the notion to make that life everything we want it to be.

A lyrical life lesson, in a four-minute song that will always stay with you, and remind you to push past your sadness and your “hurt” to meet your destiny, whatever that may be.

Which version of the song do you prefer? Or like Lisa do you feel that both artists have managed to make this one song their own? Leave us a comment and let us know.

All words by Lisa Lunney. You can read more from Lisa on LTW here.

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54 comments on “Nine Inch Nails Vs Johnny Cash – which version of Hurt is better?”

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  1. A cover cannot be better than the original. It can be more interesting. It can be different. A performer/band cannot take someone’s previous efforts and ideas and say that they are better. Van Halen’s version of “You Really Got Me’ is explosive, but it cannot take the mantle away from the Kinks. Stiff Little Fingers versions of “Johnny Was” and “Doesn’t Make It Alright” are great, but we cannot minimize Bob Marley and the Specials creations. (BTW, Stiff Little Fingers may be my favorite band ever).

    • I know this is 2 years old but I’d like to say I think covers can be better, for instance I like FFDP’s cover of Bad Conpany better than the original.

    • What you say is true and can be applied to most of covers but not to this one. Johny Cash gave life to this song!

    • Maximilian Rind

      “I play pokemon go” would have a disagreement with you. (Cover by Garrett Williamson)

    • I also think covers may soemtimes be “better” than the original. Whatever “better” may imply here.
      Thinking of “All Along The Watchtower” by Bob Dylan (orig) vs. Jimi Hendrix (cover)… Personally, I like Hendrix’s version much more…

    • Tell that to Jimmy Hendrix and his career defining all along the watchtower.

      A cover can certainly be better than the original and in my eyes Cash’s is better than NiN’s version.

      Just the fact youre trying to pigeon-hole and make a definitive statement such as “a cover can’t be as good” is ridiculous. Art is subjective. Period.

      The Beatles aren’t my favorite band but I recognize them as the greatest band of all time. Hence subjectivity and why the author asked which version we prefer.

      So give me cash and give me hendrix.

  2. Graham Boffey

    By default, any song sounds better than when it is performed by NIN, surely. Cash is a musical colossus.

  3. I was not aware of this song before listening to it just consequently I’ve only heard the two versions a couple of times . The Johnny Cash version has , for me, more vulnerability . I’m not saying it’s better and i’m not 100% sure i prefer it but on first listen it moved me most .
    Personally I don’t agree that a cover cannot be better than an original but I’m not willing to argue it out . Just to say i think Elvis Costello’s “What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding ” is better than Nick Lowe’s original but I realise that is purely a personal opinion

  4. I honestly feel like Cash is the most overrated guy if he was still alive he wouldn’t have so many people on his bandwagon he never did anything that had not already been done he style was like Hank Williams Sr in his younger days then as he got older he almost seemed like he didn’t even care anymore

    • You couldn’t be more misguided. If he were alive he’d be near 100. If you know anything about his life at all he grew as a performer after meeting June Carter and the Carter Family. In the early days say mid fifties to sixties you were lucky if he showed up to his shows. He did not really break out until cleaning up his life and getting off pills and booze. I saw him more than a few times. This man was not coasting. After June died he did kind of lose interest in many things. He nailed this song. It could almost be his farewell song. Did not like NIN. No soul or passion. No personal connection

  5. I do prefer Johnny Cash version. His arragement of it is more clearly from the technical point of view, also his aging voice it gives it that special touch. It sound “wisely”. I do not like NIN music in general, so I may be bias. NIN arragement is less polished, and his voice is not great. His voice does not have the same emotion. I have heard a couple of NIN versions (video, from the album, in concert), every one sounds quite different. Having said that, the song is NIN song. Johnny Cash just made a great sond greater!

    • You cant honestly think that? Trent Reznor’s voice is haunting giving touch to the feeling of being alone as stated in the article I feel like you didn’t even take the time to read it and blandly came to the comments section to try to state something without good merit… But don’t get me wrong I love Johnny Cash’s version too but Reznor’s voice went from a haunting whisper of a ghost to a violent roar of anger and sadness at his own mistakes giving it a lot of emotion so yes you are being very biased and you have not truly analyzed both songs to their full potential.

      • Agreed Sir, I loved Cash version first, listened to NIN version was not impressed, however after a couple of listens it means more to me than the wonderful Cash version.

  6. Johnny Cash. I am not a country fan, or on some Johnny Cash bandwagon. You can hate on him if you want, but he man had talent. Honestly, after hearing the same song by NIN, sung by Johnny Cash, It turned mediocre into breathtaking. Going back to NIN for the song after that was like trying to eat a turd after having awesome Cake! Sure.. they are made of the same stuff.. but I’m not putting the already eaten, digested, and pooped out cake, I’ll take the freshly baked cake thank you. I hear the comment that a song cannot be sung better than the original artist and that is just not true. It will not be exactly the same, but that does not mean it isn’t better. 9/10 times it is not as good, this is that other time though when it is way better by someone else. Johnny put feeling and soul into it. NIN just put words into it. Cash all the way. I can’t even listen to the NIN version anymore, I feel like I’m cheating myself out of something way better.

  7. Cash’s version is terrible. Sorry fans….

    • Totally agree

    • I feel like nobody here understands the song at all. The album Hurt features on is called The Downward Spiral, a concept album about someone falling into mental illness, drug abuse and eventually kills themselves in the penultimate track. Hurt isn’t meant to be sad. It isn’t meant to be melancholic or nostalgiac. It’s meant to be uncomfortable, musically the dissonant and discordant notes make it difficult to listen to. It’s meant to be unfeeling and numb, the opening line is “I hurt myself today, to see if I could feel”. It’s about someone who feels nothing and sees no more point in living.
      I also hate Cash’s religious imagery by changing the lyrics to “crown of thorns”. It makes no sense.

  8. I fell that this was not properly analysed and is purely of personal opinion you and dose not give insite into which is overall better and just proves your point. I would respect your idea more if you elaborated more on the NIN version of the song and presented a properly weighed argument and conclusion instead of saying simply that one was better without proper analyses into the NIN version making the title misleading. Therefore this article should have been why i think that Johny chases version of hurt is better than NIN.
    I personally find them each to have there own merits

    • Precisely. Nail on head, I thought the exact same thing when reading it. I thought it was going to be a totally balanced article and what followed would be a few paragraphs that went on to say how great NINs version is for alternate reasons.
      Trent Reznor wrote the song, therefore he enabled Johnny Cash to even sing it in the first place. How can anyone be critical of NINs performance of this? You may not like it stylistically, but the whole ‘which version is better’ elaborated by an article which barely references the artist – who wrote the actual words and also performed it – is offensive and bothers me on so many levels.
      Trent Reznor is the only reason the song exists! I personally love both versions, but they are too different to compare. Respectfully – most of the credit should go to the artist who created and wrote the words, and nobody can mean those words more than him, anyone else is merely interpreting and relating to them.

      • Exactly, I have been a huge fan of both Johnny Cash and Trent Reznor most of my life. Both versions are great, and put my emotions in two similar, yet different, pathways. NINs version puts me in a state where I feel the need to forgive myself for my mistakes and just want to be alone, but JCs version makes me want to reach out to others I’ve caused problems for and seek their forgiveness. When it comes down to it, I love both versions, but you must give credit where it is due, the person who wrote it. The only thing that bugged me about JCs remake is the fact that he got the credit for the song due to his name being more familiar with the overall public. A lot of people thought that he wrote it, and that just isn’t right, regardless of which one, you think, sounds better.

  9. NIN version is much better. Cash is ok, but it kind of just sounds like all his other songs, it gets lost. NIN is a lot more versatile and this stands out from a lot of their other songs making it truly unique.

    • Frank, I respect your point of view and agree with it. I was raised with all kinds of music in our house. But my dad was older and we connected with Johnny Cash music so I feel that may be part of why I like johnny’s better.
      When a band does something out of their usual style it is awesome and seems to further their writing skills in their music.

  10. I connect more with Johnny Cash version, however the words are brilliant. I look at this song as being a legend’s good bye song. Ironically one of the best song writers in the history of music is not one one who wrote but his pain and life seem to fit perfectly. It is also one of the songs that summed up how I was feeling after my loss of my only child. So thank you for writing this song NIN. It also has expanded my music I listen to now. A gift I cannot repay!

  11. The original is so much better. It feels a lot more raw and powerful when Trent Reznor is singing it. It falls a bit flat and dull in Johnny Cash’s version. It doesn’t have the same raw intensity that the original does. The original song speaks to a feeling of self-loathing and incredible frustration and anger with oneself, something that is a very relatable feeling for many people. However, it is not an easy feeling to capture well, and I think that is where the cover falls very short. Trent Reznor’s version is raw, and connects with the kind of desperate feelings that many people are so accustomed to, whereas the cover lacks that urgency. This song saved me when I felt most alone in the world, and that’s a powerful thing. A powerful thing that I don’t feel Cash’s version adequately achieves. It seems as if a raw, visceral song was turned into something muted. This cover is soft turns where the original was all jagged edges. The original will always be far far better in my opinion.

  12. Look, I’ll open with “the cash version is better”.

    But not on an emotional level, period. Unless you can relate to every single line of the song (not just the general, like, vibe, you know) you don’t really get it in on a personal level. I dug the song as a moody teenager, and level headed adult… but never really fully appreciated it until I was a manic depressive junkie completely destroying everything around me.

    It just hits harder.

  13. I’ve love the NIN for many years. But Johnny cash is more stronger shows more apathy it’s like the song was written about his life and how it passed by so fast. Where NIns talks about suicide and depression and horrific sadness when you listen to Johnny cash a versions it’s like he turned a cubic zirconia into a diamond

  14. NIN has more of an emotional tug to it. You sense frustration, despair and anger in the lyrics.

    Cash’s version doesn’t have any of that.

    • Toddy Spaghetti

      You really have no idea what emotion is. Johnny Cash’s is far more impactful from a feels standpoint. You clearly have no clue what you are talking about. One is a legend whose career spanned decades. Nine Inch Nails are back to irrelevance where their terrible “music” belongs.

      • By calling NIN terrible you are calling Cash’s version terrible. NIN created the song remember that and Cash only changed a few lyrics… so by comparison you have no idea what you are talking about, each song is different but saying NIN is terrible and basing it only on your own feelings and hate because you liked Cash better just shows how you are biased and without good merit… Next time try to analyze both songs and give fair statements about both.

  15. The lyrics are everything… but J.Cash poured his entire life into it, and that made all the difference. Reznor had no chance… not yet.

  16. How about neither is better than the other? They both speak to me on different levels. I can empathize more with Cash, knowing what I know of his life, and also with the twists and turns that my own life threw at me. The NiN version is more raw, more “real”, but it comes from a different place than the Man In Black. Both are great, and each has it’s place in my life.

  17. I think Johnny Cash’s version of the song “hurt”, is more understandable than the original one by the band, nine inch nails. However, I think Trent Reznor,(NIN) put more emotional feeling into the song.

  18. i feel like both versions are great. it seems like johnny cash made an entire different song from it.

  19. I’d been living under a rock so it had seemed as I’d never heard the song until earlier this year (2016). My drummer gave me some chords and a page of lyrics, hummed the tune and said he’d like to hear my interpretation of his all time favourite song. I played around with it, got into it so much I could have believed the song was written about me. I recorded it over a couple of days, playing 4 x Guitar tracks, 1 x Bass track, 1 x drum track and two vocal tracks ( with some help from my vocal harmonizer for the harmonies). I gave it to him and he was gob smacked. We then sat down to listen to the various versions out there being the first time I’d heard another recording of the song. My favourite is Trent Reznor solo on piano followed closely by Eddie Vedder on Acoustic. Anyway, if you’re at all interested in my cover, here’s a link to the demo I gave my drummer recorded on my Tascam 2488 port studio.
    https://www.reverbnation.com/pup6/song/26779778-hurtdemo-trent-reznor-cover
    I was in the process of applying for a license to release this song as a cover after getting it recorded professionally (not in my living room lol), but after hearing it as the theme for the 2017 Wolverine movie…… I thought I’d hold of for a few years as I didn’t want my cover to be just another version.

  20. Johnny Cash’s rendition of Hurt is much more profound than NIN. My soul is haunted every time I hear Johnny sing it. To be honest; I and not a fan of NIN original version. It doesn’t evoke any real emotion whatsoever.

  21. I think most people find the Cash version more relatable and reflective. The original makes a lot more sense when listened to in its proper place at the end of The Downward Spiral. Some argue that it’s a suicide note or description of rock bottom after the protagonist commits suicide in the previous title track. It’s personal preference, but both versions are just different and serve different purposes.

  22. If you ask me “What do you think of Country Music?” I will reply with “I’m not a huge fan, but I find Johnny Cash’s Hurt one of the best ones around.”

  23. I feel that they are both completely different songs. Nine inch nails did a fantastic job in writing the song and I enjoyed the emotion put into it extensively. Johnny Cash on the other hand re-purposed the song in a meaningful way, yet didn’t weaken it in any sense. Sure, the words might be the same, but the meanings couldn’t have been more different. Reznor was describing the sensations and struggles of drug abuse, while cash was reflecting on his entire life. For either artist it is a beautiful song that tears at some of the deepest fibers of my being. In the end, neither could’ve been better than the other because they both had separate meanings.

    • I echo the above. Art is interpretation. No two people see a painting or a statue the same way. Music speaks differently to people based on their personal and emotional experiences. If someone likes the color blue and another green, it doesn’t mean one is ‘better’ than the other. They are both good in the eye of the beholder. The version you enjoy the most is the best. Loving art in any form shouldn’t be a competition.

  24. I preferred the Nine Inch Nails version

  25. I am a nine inch nail fan, as well as a johnny cash fan. I do like johnny’s version better by far. It moves me, the nine inch nail version is a song I skip when it shuffles onto my phone.

  26. I really connected to the original song when I was going through a very dark time in my life. The emotions that it evoked in me were raw and very real. Years later when I was just pulling myself out of that life and starting over I heard Johnny Cash singing those same words. I heard that voice, that regret, years of struggle and hopelessness. To me it was the same story from an older soul. Someone who never got out of that hole, someone just hanging on, someone older and sadder. Someone that could have been me. Looking back now I think the NIN version helped me see the truth of the life I was living and helped me to want out. Johnny Cash’s version came during that transition and helped me to want to stay out.
    I just now decided to look up Cash’s video for this song and I didn’t like it. I guess having connected to it so personally for all of these years I had my own version. I had made my own video full of my memories and seeing the video about Cash’s life didn’t work for me. Also I decided to look up Trent Reznor’s thoughts and I was surprised to see he wasn’t involved. I had just alway’s thought it was a new way he was telling his story from an older perspective. It’s amazing the way music can touch us the way it does sometimes. The way another person’s thoughts and emotions can become a part of our own story. I have never watched the NIN video and I won’t watch the Johnny Cash video again either. For me the video of my memories reminds me of where I was and makes me thankful that am where I am now.

  27. A concerned person

    Johnny Cash ruined it, this was a great song and then he completed changed the style of it and now it sounded awful

  28. A great little essay on a fantastic song.
    They are, of course, both incredibly moving interpretations. I remember, years ago, being moved to tears at first view of the video for Johnny’s version. I highly recommend the album it’s on too; American IV: The Man Comes Around.

  29. Love how you spoke so much to the meaning of Cash’s version of Reznors pain. The original is far more haunting, poignant and I’d say everyday relevant. Cash’s version is musically spot on and a great highlight real of his on self professed demise, however not anything close to the pain Trent had to feel to write and importantly, release what he did.

  30. I love original song more than Cash version because original has more meanings than one. Personal : It’s a song not about the drug abuse. It just has a metaphor of it. It’s a self-isolation song. Because of my opinions/actions/thoughts i lost almost all of my friends, people who i can trust. I living a routine, always the same. I lost faith in this world. I just living in the four walla i build myself. NIN version shows that desperate anger towards myself and the others. But. Original song has also another meaning : Please, be kind to each other. Only then we can have true freedom and escape violence, hypocrisy and more of the evil hunan nature. For me, Cash made the song easier to relate to and more “radio-friendly”, personally. I just can’t connect with the world, but this song is my cure.

  31. UPD : But i have my best friend, who understands my feelings towards this world, drowned in hypocrisy. I get the message that the original NIN song has : Be kind to each other, and only then we can have true freedom and peace. On the global meaning of the song i will cite words from the album interpretation to let you know about the true meaning of “Hurt” :
    “So begins the final song of the album, “hurt,” the most solitary manifestation of the human voice. In theory this is a triumph, a victory for humanity, but in reality it was too costly. Even though the human side of the character is what somehow survives beyond death, it is still scarred, unfamiliar with anything other than pain.

    “the needle tears a hole,
    the old familiar sting,
    try to kill it all away,
    but i remember everything.”

    The drug reference is used as a metaphor for any form of self-destructive behavior that one pursues in hope of escape while somewhere knowing the consequences, and even welcoming them. There is no peace because he knows that it was all his fault — he knows what he has done.

    “what have i become?
    my sweetest friend
    everyone i know
    goes away in the end
    you could have it all
    my empire of dirt
    i will let you down
    i will make you hurt”

    Addressing some friend that never existed within his life, he finally surrenders his control completely. He no longer has the strength to do otherwise. His inability to deal with anything but extremes is once again noted. When he lets go, he lets go completely (“you could have it all”).

    This notion of his obsession with extremes is one of the most important themes of the album — from “closer,” where he says “you can have my everything,” to his desires as outlined in “i do not want this,” where he declares that he wants to know everything, be everywhere, and fuck everyone. His desire for control eventually leads to his loss of it.

    The purity and unity that he sought in life still hasn’t been found.

    “i wear my crown of shit
    on my liar’s chair
    full of broken thoughts
    i cannot repair
    beneath the stain of time
    the feeling disappears
    you are someone else
    i am still right here”

    Here he makes an allusion to the throne of God, which he tried to claim as his own — and remembers with regret his violence, which he can never forget. And finally we come to the last lines of the album, which express the man’s desire to keep himself, a desire that only can be fulfilled and affirmed if he allows others to do the same.

    “if i could start again
    a million miles away
    i would keep myself
    i would find a way”

    This final “verse” is proof of the character’s growth. Tragically, it is after his death that he reaches this point. He boldly affirms his desire to keep his humanity as a value and a meaning that human beings can realize.

    These final words are swept away in an electric chord that shatters the quiet and fades into a mechanical drone that in turn fades away, signifying an end — or perhaps a new beginning.

    In the dark heat of the arena, before thousands of people, the climax of “eraser” — the desperate plea for death — comes to a close. The projection screen, which had shown a setting desert sun, goes black. A muffled but steady wind from another rusty and barren landscape is heard faintly.

    Trent Reznor, backlit so that he is visible through the screen, begins to sing, as the first few notes of the song arise from an acoustic guitar: “i hurt myself today.”

    As the essay opened, we discussed the prospect of shifting the focus back onto the downward spiral in order to find some insight into our times. To some, the connection may already be all too clear; they see similar trends in both themselves and the world. However, to most the connection may still seem too vague to make sense of; the world of indifference and nihilism described by Reznor is still too far away. That is why we are going to end this with an examination of the live version of “hurt

    In the context of the album, “hurt” is the purest statement of the man’s feelings, the most personal song Reznor claims to have written. Now, open before thousands of others, he begins to sing it.

    But whereas the song was personal on the album, it now reaches beyond that level and addresses all of humanity. The screen shows us black-and-white images — images of decay, of nuclear holocaust, and horrifying images of a war-torn land where woman and children stand in front of their devastated homes; the corpses of young soldiers lie out in the open, uncared for; and concentration camp victims are heaped into piles devoid of any humanity. A child trapped in the bloody kingdom of man stares out at the audience accusingly as if asking “why?” “what have i become?” now seems to be “what have we become?”

    The lyrics to “hurt” now become an indictment of all of modern society and its “empire of dirt.” “we hurt ourselves, to see if we still feel…try to kill the memory of it all away, but we remember everything.”
    “Just cast a glance at the history of mankind; well, what do you see? Is it majestic?” 6

    Self-destructive control doesn’t just belong to the character of the album; it is a whole society’s desire. The goal of the modern world has been to replace the kingdom of God with the kingdom of man. The so-called “Age of Reason,” which promised humanity control over the world through science and technology, has given rise to the same terror and destruction of previous ages, and more of it. We gain the power to do more and more at the price of becoming estranged from life.

    Our absolute ideologies have betrayed us. Our desires have betrayed us. In short, we have betrayed us. So now what? Are we condemned to continue our desperate cycle until the end. Have we, like the character, gone to far. No. Even in the bleakest situations there is some hope. It is time to bring the modern age to an end; it is time to accept responsibility for what we’ve done. As human beings, we must learn to live as human beings and to do without the absolutes we can never obtain. It is time to forget about the absolute freedom that can only be obtained at the expense of others (whether in the guise of Marxist utopia or Libertarian Capitalism). In order to experience freedom, real human freedom, we must let others be free, allow them to have what we want for ourselves. Only then can our lives as humans affirm any real value, only then will relationships, whether personal or societal, stop being tyrannical and be based on free and mutual giving as well as receiving. We must find ourselves; learn once again how to care for others as well as ourselves, and then, only then, can we escape nihilism and violence.”
    ———————————————————————————–
    Cash version fails to deliver so many meanings of the original song.

  32. Related links : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb4qyuR7_cc – live version of NIN’s “Hurt”. It”s more powerful than in the studio
    http://www.4degreez.com/nailz/ninterpretations/downspiral.html – TDS interpretation. If you know all of the song meanings on the album you will know true meaning of “Hurt”
    ———————————————————————–
    These links will help you understand this song more clearly.

  33. When Trent Reznor’s voice drops almost to a whisper as he sings “You are someone else, I am still right here”, the pain, loss and regret there is so profound it’s palpable.
    When Cash sings it, it sounds just like the rest of the song.

    • I agree. The original nin version is much more emotional, and Reznor’s despair & hopelessness are clearly palpable.
      However, in the Johnny Cash version I could absorb and appreciate the lyrics, and although the interpretation in Cash’s version was different than the original version it actually gave me an understanding of where Reznor’s head was when he wrote it. I believe both versions compliment one another, and should not be compared. I love Johnny Cash, and even though I”ll listen to his interpretation more often I will never forget that without Trent Reznor’s ‘original’ their would be no Johnny Cash recording of ‘Hurt’.

  34. The arrangement in this version is different than the original. The original sounds detached from reality in a sense. The cover is bathed in reality with very subtle hints of dissonance and it crescendos gradually. I like both version but Cash’s version usually has me on the verge of tears. I suppose I can sort of relate to wanting to do things different in my life. Things I’d change. Opportunities I’d take. The list goes on. Both are about the human condition though. I’m glad Reznor had the class enough to give this song to Cash. It’s sad and beautiful that gives a glimmer of hope in the form of a lesson; don’t let life pass you by. Live to the fullest if you can.

    I know this article is old but hey, the song is timeless.

  35. With out doubt Johnny Cash made it one of the most expressive songs of all time tuneing into the Human soul inside, Much as Joe Cocker did with the Beatles with a little help from my friends.
    It is rare to hear better than the original. The voice helps.

  36. I’m guessing that all of those criticizing Johnny Cash’s cover don’t know that Trent Reznor likes Cash’s interpretation and even said that the song isn’t his any more in an interview in Alternative Press in 2004.

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