Johnny Cash decided to cover Nine Inch Nails’ 1994 hit ‘Hurt’ in 2003 and it truly does stand up there as one of the cover songs that can actually lay claim to being better than the original, or at least as good as it if you’re a hardcore NIN fan.
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Whilst the song is undeniably powerful, its impact was heightened even more through the exceptional music video, which shows Johnny playing his guitar in his house and looking back over his life. It truly is special and will probably give you chills if not completely reduce you to tears. Check it out below if you don’t believe me:
Told you. Anyway, what you might not know about the video is that it almost didn’t get made. After Rick Rubin had recorded the song, director Mark Romanek kept bugging him to make a music video before he eventually relented:
I begged Rick Rubin to let me shoot something to that track. I even offered to do it for free.
I began to scouting locations for it after flying to Nashville, eventually deciding on Cash’s own house. It was largely in a state of disrepair as he was in his last days.
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. The results speak for themselves.
Johnny’s wife June died three months after it was filmed with Johnny passing too four months after that.
It is a great music video and this story makes it even more heartbreaking. Rick Rubin himself was suitably impressed, saying the following:
I cried the first time I saw it. If you were moved to that kind of emotion in the course of a two-hour movie, it would be a great accomplishment. To do it in a four-minute music video is shocking.
No shit. One of the greats.
For more Johnny Cash, check out this love letter he wrote his wife – recently voted the greatest love letter of all time. Beautiful.