Album: The Downward Spiral (1994)


  • This song is about realizing consequence and regret. It sends a powerful message that we should all proceed through life wisely, because there is nothing worse than being stuck with a label, a pain, a sickness, or a death, that we know beforehand will leave us only wishing things had been different and that we could change the choices we made. Explaining the self-loathing nature of the songs on The Downward Spiral album, Trent Reznor told USA Today: "I'm not proud to say I hate myself and don't like what I am, but maybe there is real human communication that ends up positive even though everything being said is negative." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Wes - Florence, AL
  • This song is reportedly Trent Reznor's favorite and is always the final song played at Nine Inch Nails concerts. He considers it the most personal song he has ever written. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Konrad - Wellington, New Zealand
  • Reznor lived in the Los Angeles home where the actress Sharon Tate used to live, and where she was one of the victims in the Manson family murders (Reznor didn't know she used to live there when he rented it). This song, along with most of The Downward Spiral album was done in the mansion. The front door of the house had the word "Pig" written on it by the murderers. Reportedly this was painted over numerous times, but you could faintly see the outline of the word on the wall. Trent apparently never noticed the word until after he was told whose mansion it was. After The Downward Spiral was completed, Trent moved out and the owner had the mansion demolished, but Reznor kept the front door handle "to remind him of what happened and the events that took place inside." (information compiled from the Nine Inch Nails CD biography book)
  • On his 2002 album American IV, The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash did a stark cover of this with a striking video. In the video, the 71-year old Cash appears very fragile as he sings this from his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Cash wore no makeup, and there was no attempt to make him look younger or more vibrant through lighting or other effects. This was interspersed with footage of Cash in his younger days. The video appeared to be Cash's obituary, as he was in failing health after a life filled with drug-abuse. The video was very emotional and drew a lot of media attention, including a story on CNN. Trent Reznor was very impressed by Cash's take on his song and quite moved by the video.
  • Cash's video was directed by Mark Romanek, who previously directed videos by U2, Michael Jackson and Madonna. He also directed the 2002 Robin Williams movie One Hour Photo. He shot some of the video at the House Of Cash Museum, which contained a lot of Cash's memorabilia but had been closed for years and was damaged in a flood. Romanek felt the museum was an honest and powerful reflection of Cash's life. He said of Johnny Cash's video in The Guardian September 24, 2005: "Johnny's producer, Rick Rubin, played me this track long before its release and I was so struck by it I said, 'We have to film something to go with this.' I'm a massive Johnny Cash fan and had been lined up to shoot a video for him a few years before which Anton Corbijn ended up doing instead. So this time I made Rick promise me I could make it. He called me on a Tuesday and said, 'Johnny's going on holiday to his ranch in Jamaica on Saturday so if you want to make this you better make it quick.'

    I'm someone who usually takes a minimum of two weeks to prep a video but this was Johnny Cash. So I jumped on a redeye to Nashville with my producer and a cameraman and arrived on Friday with no idea of what I was going to make. I looked around the house and made a few suggestions of where we might film Johnny performing. I was making it up off the top of my head. Then I went to the House of Cash Museum and found it in total disrepair.

    There was no time to clean it up so I decided that I'd just film it, and Johnny, exactly as they were. He was no longer in his prime - he was fading and that was what I wanted to show. While I was filming the opening segment of Johnny playing guitar in his living room, his wife, June, came down the stairs and watched. The look on her face was so complex: full of love and pride and concern for her husband. So I asked her if I could film her too and she agreed. But the most important element was when we discovered a film archive in the museum. When we looked back at the rushes we'd filmed at the house we thought they were good but not great. But once we dropped in the archive footage of Johnny we realized that was the soul of the video. The whole thing was so spontaneous. It's made me realize that sometimes you can be too prepared and that there's some value to urgency."

    The video was so intimate that Cash's management didn't think it should be released, and Johnny was leaning in that direction. According to Rick Rubin, it was his daughter, Rosanne Cash, who convinced him to let it go. June Carter Cash, died later that year.
  • Rick Rubin, who produced Johnny Cash's cover, pushed him to record it. Rubin made compilations of songs for Cash to consider recording for the American IV, The Man Comes Around project, but "Hurt" didn't catch his ear. Rubin asked him to reconsider, and he him listen to the song while he read the lyrics. Cash still wasn't sure, but he deferred to Rubin.

    What drew Rubin to the song was the vulnerability - he knew that Cash's voice was giving out, and he needed material that would express that pain. Rubin said in the October 2004 edition of Vanity Fair: "It's a strange song. I mean, the opening line is, 'I hurt myself today...' And then the next line is, 'To see if I still feel.' So it's self-inflicted. It's such a strange thought to open a song with."
  • Cash played this over 100 times before he recorded it. He called it "The best anti-drug song I ever heard."
  • Cash's video was nominated for seven MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year. The only award it won was for Best Cinematography. When Justin Timberlake beat out Cash for Best Male Video (for "Cry Me A River"), he declared, "This is a travesty!" and explained how Cash - one of his idols - should have won. Cash wasn't able to attend because of a stomach ailment. He died about two weeks later of complications from diabetes.
  • The Cash video won a Grammy for Best Short Form Video. June Carter Cash, who died four months before the awards, also won for Best Traditional Folk Album and Best Female Country Vocal.
  • The Johnny Cash cover was used by World Wrestling Entertainment for a video tribute to the late Eddie Guerrero. The video tribute was broadcast on the November 14, 2005 episode of WWE Monday Night Raw a day after Guerrero passed away. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chris - Andover, MN
  • When Johnny Cash covered this, he changed the line "I wear this crown of s--t" to "I wear this crown of thorns." This made the song more Biblical. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chris - Bradenton, FL
  • Trent Reznor has confessed that originally he was angry that Johnny Cash had covered this, as it was such a personal song to him. However, once he heard Cash's heart-rending version and saw the poignant video, he changed his tune.

    Reznor recalled to The Sun Newspaper August 1st 2008: "The Cash thing was a couple of years into being clean I was very unsure of myself. Did I have anything to say? Could I still write music? Did anyone still care? I'd been out of the limelight for a while. I'd put the brakes on everything to try to get my life in order, to try to get healthy and stay alive. I'd been friends with Rick Rubin for several years. He called me to ask how I'd feel if Johnny Cash covered 'Hurt.' 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 when Reznor finally saw the video that his attitude changed. He continued: "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. For anyone who hasn't seen it, I highly recommend checking it out. I have goose bumps right now thinking about it."
  • On January 29, 2007 Johnny Cash's rendition of this song was voted the best ever cover version in a poll by BBC 6 Music. It got twice as many votes as other famous covers such as Jimi Hendrix' "All Along The Watchtower" and Joe Cocker's "With A Little Help From My Friends."
  • Leona Lewis covered this for the title track of her EP Hurt: The EP. It reached the top ten of the UK singles charts after she performed it live on The X Factor's eighth series at Wembley Stadium as well as the Royal Variety Performance. Her version was released on December 6, 2011 through record label Syco.
  • Reznor sings here, "and you could have it all, my empire of dirt," a forewarning of the whole junkie lifestyle he got involved in following the release of The Downward Spiral.

    "Interestingly enough, when I wrote the song I had no idea what was in store for me," he told Uncut magazine April 2005. "I wrote the album about somebody who follows this path who was an extension of me. But it was in my head. I hadn't actually lived it. Then later I lived it. I didn't realize the record was a premonition. I was using the metaphor of drugs at the forefront of what was going on. But I wasn't a junkie. Later I became one, but I didn't know there was an addict in me that just hadn't bloomed out of the dirt yet." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    DeeTheWriter - Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation

Comments: 128

  • KillercvtsLove that Cash's cover got more written about it and is recognized more than Trent's
  • Anon from UkAlthough this was about drugs initially, it can be used to help people through addiction, loss, mental health issues, self harm, times of reflection in life. It's truly amazing
  • Bobby Palk from Rock Hill, ScObviously about heroin initially....but love is a drug as well. Cash knew time was running out for him and the Mrs.
  • Southern Man from KentuckyI agree Naioka from Sptsyltuckey, VA, How true are these lines!

    "Everyone I know goes away in the end."

    So haunting and sad but so true.
  • Zack from Noblesville, InBest cover ever. Makes me feel things I thought were dead. Thank you Nine Inch Nails and R.I.P. Johnny you are missed.
  • Maynardfan from Tampa, FlI really like Johnny Cashes version of this song it is very powerful and emotional. For myself Mr.Reznors original version (Hurt, the song Trent Wrote) will always be my favorite song hands down.
  • Jimmy from Modesto, CaThis is to the first comment. Everything you tried to correct was wrong. except the part about the doorknob. it doesnt say he owned it, or had it torn down.
  • Bry from Dayton, OhTrent Reznor DID NOT Have The Tate Mansion Demolished..He only RENTED the house for a studio he did not own it IT was Owned By Rudy Antibelli Who Sold it for 1.8 million AFTER Trent Moved out..I personaly do not belive that he didnt know who lived there or what occured there before he rented the home...its the most famous mass murder scene in america.. he took the WHOLE DOOR not the doorknob and its in his Nothingness Studios Johnny Cash Wrote Hurt
  • Simone Maire Smith from Bellaire, MiI love this song for it's truth. It has such power and pain. It is deep and beautiful in it's sadness. (Hi Jake from TC. I am not too far from you.)
  • Morgana from Oakland Nj, FlTo: David in Hanove, WV

    I really love this song ... AND OF ALL these posts ~ I appreciated / related to yours the most. Thanks ... I feel the same. My favorite is actually the cover done by Peter Murphy... You should watch it on UTube, if you haven't yet.

    Someone mentioned the theme of "cutting oneself" IE: "I hurt myself today to see..... "I just want to agree that I intertpreted that the same way. And in my opinion/ Cash's version is completely different. I found that theme to mean... Although I have everything... ( that's what you think...Money, fame...etc. ) It's really just dirt... It's worthless ~ money really can't buy happiness...or health. SO... Why are we all suffering ?

    I thought the person who suggested The "God has abandoned us" was a really interesting theory.

    Hang in there David~
  • David from Boston, Maanyone who thinks this song is about anything other then herion use,and the self hate and alienation it brings isnt listning to the song "the needle tears a hole the old familar sting try to to kill it all away" meaning the s--t show your life has become but no matter how hard you try or how far you run every where you go there you are. but I remember everys--tty thing i have ever doneand everyone i have ever "hurt" due to my addiction and no amount of dope can take that away.If you have ever been addicted to herion you know what trent is talking about,and if you didnt know now you know. No song has ever captured the feeling of addiction to herion,and the feelings it brings quite like "hurt".
  • Budoshi from Sandnessjøen, NorwayCash really made this song his own.. Even Reznor had to admit it:D
  • Karen from Manchester, Nh(AAGH! I got cut off! Anyway...) A lot of the old Johnny Cash footage, as well as the crucifixion scenes, are taken from the 1973 movie "The Gospel Road", starring Johnny, June, Robert Elfstrom as Jesus and - in genius casting - Robert Elfstrom, Jr. as Jesus as a child. I've seen this movie recently and it is beautiful, albeit a little dated.
  • Karen from Manchester, NhA lot of the old Johnny Cash footage, as well as the crucifixion scenes, are taken from the 1973 movie "The Gospel Road", starring Johnny, June,
  • Lorraine Davis from Greeley, CoNo, this song was definitley written by Reznor, you can just tell. I didnt relly get the video, but anyway, beautifully done song
  • Naioka from Sptsyltuckey, Vaam i the only person that was really struck by the lines "everyone i know goes away in the end"?
  • Naioka from Sptsyltuckey, Vathis is one of the most beautiful and most creepy songs i have ever heard in my life
  • Ape from Somewhere Else, PaNIN's lyrics are startlingly honest and its a great tune as well. Almost shockingly honest, but in a admirable way. Once you write something and it goes public you lose complete control of it. People can readily identify with parts or even most of it, but it can mean very different things, represent very different memories etc. Cash's version is quite good, born again on stark honesty, and quavering but still skillfully handled voice. The quality of NIN's song is measured in the depth it reaches in so many people.
  • Kelly from Richmond, VaI just heard this song on the radio and I related to it, I thought. At first I thought it was about cutting yourself, which I do, so I related. But now that I came on here, everyone says that it's about drugs.
  • Amanda from Richmond, Vatrent reznor wrote the song hurt. johnny cash heard it, liked it, and asked if he could cover it, reznor said it would be an honor.
    also, 'hurt' is not the last song played at NIN concerts, 'head like a hole' is. atleast it has been at all the nine inch nails concerts I've been to.
  • Emily from Perth, AustraliaDaniel, Nashville, TN

    sorry you have it the wrong way around.

    Trent Reznor of NIN wrote the song.

    Cash covered it.
  • Daniel from Nashville, TnI think this was one of the best tunes that Cash ever wrote. It's a shame that NIN stole it and called it their own.
  • Michael from Glen Allen, VaTo: Windi, Gainesville, FL

    Reznor wrote and performed this amazing song nearly a decade before Cash took it to heart and recorded a beautiful cover.

  • Tyler Bailey from Murphy, NcThis song is one of those great songs that people put way to much meaning to and try to analyze way to much. Every version of this song has been powerful, every version has shown its own meanings, this is just a great song, period!
  • Sheeberson from Wrightsville Beach, Ncno, windi, NIN's version of "Hurt" was in 1994. Cash's rendition was almost a decade later in 2003. geez.
  • Henry from Newark, NjThe song is about the ups and downs associated with being addicted with herion. It also has something to do with Trent's dislike for materialism and lack of any personal savior. My sweetest friend is herion. Johnny Cash probably sang the song for a lot of the same reasons that Trent sang it for, but think cash sang as a good bye song. Both of Trent and Cash can't buy happiness, so they numbed the pain with addictions. It sucks not feeling normal...huh?
  • Windi from Gainesville, FlThis is a great song but NIN is not the first to make it.It was Jonny Cash that did it first
  • Windi from Gainesville, FlI love this song but I have to say that Trent Reznor was not the one who did it first it was Jonny Cash
  • Steve from Patchogue, NyClint Lowery sang and performed an excellent acoustic version of this song when he was in Sevendust.
  • Kim from London, EnglandBen from Peru!
    'Reznor probably has no idea what a tritone (augmented 4th) even is. Each version has its own elements that make it unique. What I think really makes Reznor's version stand out, other than the dissonance, is the emotion in the vocals. '
    You just don't get it do you? Anyway, shouldn't you be doing your dissitation on banned chord progressions in the medieval church now or something? I bet if you formed a band, you would call it "Rock And Roll'
    HA HA!
  • Katherine from Hamilton, CanadaI have a theory that this song is about the pain we endure in life from God. "You could have it all. My empire of dirt. I will let you down. I will make you hurt" may be a quote from God. Perhaps this song shows that God has abandoned humans, leaving us to struggle, sin, hurt, and drown in materialism. Also, the speaker of the song obviously feels alone, regretful, and wants to escape life's tragedies. Also in the video, i believe the SNAKE is a symbol for the first sin committed..which tempted eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Sin has spoiled this man's vision of the world and left him without hope,
    questioning whether his life is worth living. This is just my analyzation of this song though, and not my personal thoughts about life and God.
  • Colin from Old York, EnglandI thought he wrote the song before he was on drugs, and to have cash cover it so well obviously made him realise something...
  • David from Hanove, WvGrowing up, my uncle was really the person that got me hooked on Johnny Cash. He would play songs of his, hours on end when we'd be out fishing or just sitting around the house..Ive been battling with a lot of pain, much like a lot of you who read this, and this song really makes me open my eyes to the pain to come..Life isnt a bed of roses, but it would be nice to have one every once in a while..I seen this video just before Johnny Cash died, and I had tears in my eyes after I finished watching it..If there was ever a song for me, this one is definitly the one..Its amazing, and I cant stop listening to it..Thank You, Trent and Johnny, for the amazing words in this song..They will follow me for the rest of my life..
  • Matt from Toronto, CanadaI think alot of the anger Reznor fans feel stems from the fact that Johnny Cash will get the credit for Reznors work. Which is kind of true. I personally think the NIN version is better, but the fact that Cashs version is known and liked by more people really doesnt bother me. Let's face it, most great songs are unknown and underappretiated, it doesnt have to be more popular to be better.
    ...o and sorry, I got no facts about the song, just a pretty Irrelevant opinion.
  • Matt from New York, NyIn an MTV interview Reznor confessed he was brought to tears upon watching the video. The song was so personal to Reznor that he later compared the cover to Cash "stealing his girlfriend."
  • Stevo from Hamilton, CanadaTrent Reznor probably does know what a tritone is, he was a great musician since childhood and took music in university. Don't assume so much.
  • Ben from Lima, PeruOk, I just have to say, neither version of this song is anywhere near musical genius, as a couple of people had written. Yes, the melody is great, the chord progression is sweet, and the lyrics are even gut-wrenching. I suppose if you're a musical purist, Cash's tune seems better. The augmented in the first chord of Reznor's version is painful to the ears, but i think it actually adds to the idea of the song. It would be folly though to say that this makes the piece musical genius, as Reznor probably has no idea what a tritone (augmented 4th) even is. Each version has its own elements that make it unique. What I think really makes Reznor's version stand out, other than the dissonance, is the emotion in the vocals. Cash seems to be almost uninterested in what he's singing, but this also adds to the simplicity of his version. Yes, Reznor wrote the song. Yes, Cash covered him. Yes, it may seem unfare to NIN fans that Cash is mroe famous for it than the guy who wrote it. Fact: Cash's song simply is more appealing to non-NIN fans. It's as simple as that. Whether or not Reznor like the Cash version or not really doesnt matter. Because Cash, who is practically infinitely more popular worldwide, covered the song, it will be recognized as his by most people from now on. Especially because of the video and its fame. But hey, all you Reznor fans should be glad he covered it. There are a lot of people out there who now have "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails in their music collection because they happened to fall in love with "Hurt" by Johnny Cash.
  • Jordan from Lawrence, KsThis Song is mostly about Trent's drug addictions, mostly heroine. This song was his first step into a deep depression. He called the song his own "Self fulfilling profecy."
  • Ryan from Brunswick, MeWhy does Johnny Cash get all the fame? Are you serious? He's fricking Johnny Cash! He already had all the fame.
  • Stephen from Denver, CoI can't stop listening to this song. It's too amazing. I'm going through a rough time and this song describes addiction so well...I love it.
  • Erik from Wilkes-barre, PaPeople talk about Cash's more b/c it moved them more.
  • Jamie from Faversham, Kent, EnglandListening to Right Where It Belongs and posting about Hurt. Happy happy happy.

    And yeah, the song doesn't have to be about drugs. I mean, even if this is what Reznor was thinking about when he wrote it, Reznors work is POETRY. And good poetry usually has more than one interpretation of it.
  • Adam from Greenfield, InThis song CAN be about SI (self Injury) that is the best thing about music... It is supposed to relate to you... A good song will relate to everyone, not just the people with drug problems. Anyway this song is about destructive behavior, not just destructive behavior due to drugs, that is just how most people relate to it.
  • Spencer from Mcbride, Canadaeric, johnny cash didnt write the song. Trent Reznor from nine inch nails did.
  • Allison from Sterling, KsSee, when I first heard it, it sounded like it was about SI (self injury). I know that's not what it's about, but it still makes sense with the lyrics.
  • Andrew from Wimauma, FlJohnny Cash's version is better
  • Munch from Peterborough, CanadaThe song is looking back on the rest of the album after the events in the song The Downward Spiral and looks back on the suicide of the Character.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrI am usually a firm believer that originals are commonly the best, but Johhny Cash can make anything sound better. This is one of his greatest covers. Probably his most heartfelt song ever.
  • Eric from Tyler, Txif anyone has heard of sevendust, they did a cover of it in they're southside double-wide album.
    dedicated to johnny cash. its also very good and i suggest you people check it out. i don't know if they knew that it wasn't johnny cash that wrote the song tho!
  • Daniel from Adelaide, AustraliaIt's sad to see NIN fans rip into Johnny Cash, simply because he took Trent's song and made it his own. And for people to say Cash's version is out of time or out of tune is ridiculous - it's a different interpretation, not a replication.
  • Steven from Gainesville, GaI love the song, "Hurt", but I think that Johnny Cash did a better job than Trent Reznor, even though Reznor did write the song. It's just that, Johnny's version had a better music part to it, and the tone of it was much more impacted, it just made chills go up my spine. I had actual seen Cash's video on CMT and thought it was unlike Cash to do a song like that, then I later found out it was a NIN song. I later watched the video for NIN's version, and thought it wasn't as good. Some of that might be because Cash's version was the first I heard, but who knows? I just like Johnny's version better.
  • Anonymous from Qc, IaI am a High School student and I am doing a Poetry Project on "Hurt" written by Trent Reznor. (I don't care who the song belongs to or who does a better job with it. I am just looking at the poetry.) I have done LOTS of research on this including watching the music videos, listening to the songs, reading the lyrics, reading articles, and reading everyones' posts on this site and a few others, and watching the movie called "Walk The Line" about Johnny Cash's life.

    The theme of this poem is about realizing consequences and regret and this is told through the metaphor of drug usage (Although drugs do still have a part in the poem). "Hurt" is also about addictions or committed sins. In Cash's video, Jesus is being nailed to a cross; this happened because of others' sins.

    The message is to proceed through life wisely. Why? Because Reznor and Cash would both know first hand the effects of being stuck with a label and pain/sickness. They know there is nothing worse and after getting one or more it will leave you wishing things could have been different or that you could change your bad choices.

    "And you could have it all, My Empire of Dirt" - Reznor/Cash saying that they would give all of their fame, money, belongings to anyone because it doesn't mean much to them with their memories. Also, they would do anything to turn back time and go through life the correct way.

    I hope this helps people better their understanding of "Hurt". In my opinion, "Hurt" is the most emotionally-packed piece of writing/music ever created.
  • Brian from Winchester, Mai was feeling like crap today, because i regretted something i did, so i went to this website to find a song to cheer me up. when i came across this, it made me feel so much better; it makes you feel better because you understand that other people go through the same things you do, like when you regret something. i was also very moved by the cover johnny cash did, R.I.P.
  • Denise from Nisland, SdSomeone sent me this song and the first time I read it I didnt read it close enpough to get it. "you could have it all" I didnt even think about that twice. An dyeah I COULDVE had it all.COULD HAVE. great song now that I pay attention tho.
  • Stuart from Athens, GaTrent Reznor's version was about his life prison due to heroin. "The needle tears a hole, the old familiar sting." Trent only wishes he could go back and change everything. Johnny Cash's version was also about his life prison due to drugs. However, Johnny Cash was not a heroin addict, he was addicted to amphetamines (speed) and he was an alcoholic.
  • Simon from Melbourne, AustraliaI reckon that both versions of this song are equally good. Obviously the original is very personal to trent, and it sounds magnificent when he sings it. But Johnny bought his years of self abuse and regret to the song, and made it just as personal in a different way. I feel that him singing out of time or whatever just adds to the personal feel of the song.
  • David from Colfax, WvI'd heard that Trent Revnor thinks that Johnny Cash's version is so much better, he never listens to the original version.
  • Bender from Minersville, PaCash version is good...but only good for TV tributes but i have to say, NIN version is way better...more emotion in it and Trent Reznor sounds like hes really depressed and just shot up coccaine before he sang...This is my fav. song but NIN has the better version then anyone
  • Obzcure from Auckland, New Zealandthis is like a room full of politicians. you're all freakin retarded. Its more "im too cool to like soft music so cash sucks" or whatever. You dont have to like the song but when you're full out disrespecting the man and his version of the song thats just messed up. Cash but just as much (if not more) heart into the song as trent did. thats all that matters and if you know anything about music or are a muscian yourself you know i'm right. I dotn favour either version. infact as soon as i hear one i will go straight and listen to the other. its a powerful song that needs two version. its a before and after shot so to speak.
  • Rick from Atlanta, GaKeith et al are way to critical of the musicality (is that a word?) of Cash's version. If I looked at NIN that way, I'd see a bunch of loud, foul-mouthed, been-done-before head-bangers. Here is an excerpt from Rolling Stone Magazine:

    Cash's producer, Rick Rubin, sent a copy of the video to NIN's Trent Reznor. "We were in the studio, getting ready to work -- and I popped it in," Reznor says. "By the end I was really on the verge of tears. I'm working with Zach de la Rocha, and I told him to take a look. At the end of it, there was just dead silence. There was, like, this moist clearing of our throats and then, 'Uh, OK, let's get some coffee.'"

    Reznor, on the verge of tears, was clearly moved by Cash singing Reznor's own song! He didn't say, "Wow, that 71 year old guy sure sings out of tune and plays out of time."
  • Angie from Osawatomie, KsI love this is sad, emotional, real, heartbreaking and honest.
  • Cynthia from Chicago, IlFor what i always known, this song is about heroine. "the needle tears a hole, the old familiar sting...tryng to kill it all away..." it is odvious what is going on. Cash was also hooked on smack and lost a lot of friends and family because of it. at the end of his life, he chose this song to represent his pain.
  • X from Tomaawk, WiFor all of you that posted that Trent Reznor will never sing Hurt again because he "gave" this song to Johnny Cash, your wrong. I've seen Nine Inch Nails in concert three times since Cash covered this song, and every time he has played Hurt.
  • Danny from Edmonton, CanadaAside from Kurt Cobain, I have never heard anyone sing wih so much heart as Trent Reznor did in this song.
  • Karen from Roanoke, VaI think it's obvious that this song meant a lot to both Cash and Reznor. It was deeply personal to Reznor and important to him; that's why he wrote it. I think Cash did him a great honor by covering it, and in turn Reznor (who upon hearing that Cash had covered it was pretty pissed off) realized how deeply moved Cash was by the song and respected his version of it. Cash's take was tragically beautiful and Reznor's original tops off the great album "The Downward Spiral." I think both versions are fantastic and they're both very touching.
  • Linus from Hamilton, On, CanadaDoesn't the needle mean he was hurting himself like depressed people do?
  • Kevin from Sl, Withe song is about drug addiction.... he tries to get high on drugs to forget all of his mistakes or "sins" that he has comitted "the needle tairs a hole, that old familiar sting. try to kill it, all away, but i remember everything" the message is pretty much how who gets a drug addiction, and its just not worth it... trust me, i know what im talking about
  • Steve from Who Do You Love?Kevin, WI, I take it you know nothing about Nine Inch Nails mostly from the way you say them multiple times. If you did you'd know that Nine Inch Nials is effectively just Trent Reznor, he writes all the instruments he just gets others to play them live and the such. I personally prefer the Nine Inch Nails version but I don't think it has to be a case of love one and hate the other, I enjoy the Johnny Cash one too. Perhaps after discovering how not to appear like a drunken idiot on the net you'll realise that.
  • Trent from Poteau, Okjust listen to the depth and emotion in johhy's voice... and please do listen to some of his other work, not just 'hurt'. johnny has a lifetime's worth of recordings, don't form an opinion of him based on one song...
  • Mark from Nailsea, England UkI love the Johnny Cash version of this song. I had not heard the NIN version until I found that he did not write it and it made me go and listen to some. That has to be good. Like a lot of covers they often have a different 'take' on the original ' if they don't there is little point in doing it. For cash to choose to use it as his obituary must be a credit to Trent Reznor. Johnny's version still may be about addiction but the atmosphere of hopelessness and loss is overwhelming. The line 'Everyone I know Goes away in the end' really cuts deep. The emotional power in the song is amazing and it certainly should not be listened to if at all low. An Incredible piece of work.
  • Steve from Who Do You Love?To Antony, Monterry. Best covered song ever would be a HUGE overstatement. What about Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower, Jeff Buckley - Hallelujiah and Led Zep - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You to name a few. I'll admit its a good cover but nowhere near the best of all time.
  • Keith from North Hollywood, Ca, CaI neither like nor dislike J. Cash, in fact, I had never even heard of the guy until I was flipping through channels and stumbled upon him playing Reznor's masterpiece.

    It's great and everything that J. Cash did a cover of the song but he fails to make it his own. This song is about Trent, by Trent and will always be about Trent. I'm happy the old man found a song that he appreciated so much, but the fact remains, he didn't make it and he can't sing it either.

    Every time I hear the Cash version I try to find something about it that makes it unique and wonderful, it just doesn't work. The man doesn't sing on tune nor do any of the lyrics sound synchronized with the instruments. The guy was old, people loved him, and now of course they love his version of the song. I'm sorry, but Cash's version sounds like crap to me.

    The sad thing is, all these clueless wonders out there thing he made it now.

    Fact: Trent still performs it, as of now (2005) he's playing it about mid to mid-late set at the last 3 shows I attended.

    Fact: Trent just won a lawsuit against his ex manager for royalties the guy tried to get away with etc, was in the 6 or 7 digits too.

    Fact: I did hear Trent say "I'm about to perform a song that isn't mine anymore" at one of his first concerts returning on the "With Teeth" tour, what does that mean? Probably a dedication to Cash, I also heard he sold the rights or something but that's probably b.s.

    Fact: This thread is about NIN and Reznor's masterpiece "Hurt"

    Fact: This thread is not about an old stubborn man who exploited one of the best "sad" song ever, talk to people about when he died, snorted coke and stole other people's music somewhere else.

    Thanks, and have a nice day!

    The pigs have won tonight!
  • Cam from Arlington, VaThough I agree with a lot of you, I have to disagree with some of it. Both of based on my own personal opinion, but the way I interpret this song is not anti-drug at all. I think it just uses heroin addiction as a metaphor for human nature, which is quite obviously very flawed. Also, and this is more my personal taste in music, but I found the Nine Inch Nails version far more emotionally compelling and just plain more enjoyable to listen to. I've never been a big Johnny Cash fan, and though I don't think he "stole" the song, I think he sort of missed the deeper meaning of it when he decided to cover it. But that's just my interpretation, not to sound like a dick or anything.
  • Dane from Honolulu, HiDoes anyone else think the Cash video for this song, is extremely sad?
  • Alec from Winnipeg, CanadaIsn't the last song played on the 2005-2006 NIN tour
  • Alec from Richmond, VaThis song is not just about drug abuse. I would argue that Drug abuse is only a small part of the song. This song is about a sicness that we all have. It is about the pain that our sin causes ourselves and other people,especially the ones we love. We live in a broken world with distorted values. We live in a world where we are told that fame and fortune and multiple hot sex partners is what will make us happy. I think that it does not take a genius to figure out that all that carp is meaningless, like "empire's of dirt" The only thing worth putting your hope in is something of permanence. Something that is eternal. Like the love and grace that Jesus offers to all of us. trent started that message with his song and Johhny finished it with his video.
  • Jose from Houston, TxI think that this song is about drugs as well. Although, people are more familiar with the Johnny Cash version, one should not forget that the genius behind this song was NIN's very own, Trent Reznor. I think we should appreaciate both versions, these two men are both artists. Although, people may say that Cash stole this from Reznor, the truth is that he did not. Trent was moved by this and actually cried out of the emotion Cash let out. If Trent is not offended, the original author of this song, then why should we complain?
  • Antonio from Monterrey, MexicoOh, this song...The NIN version is just great, and the Johnny Cash version, well...Is Johny Cash! I think that maybe that's the best "covered" song ever
  • Evan from Nyc, NyEven though this song is quiet, it pushes the pain away. That is true genius. Trent Reznor is the greatest. I heard that they might make a new album backing up With Teeth in 2006 or something. But, anyway the downward spiral was the best album by NIN that I ever bought.
  • Will from Llandinam, WalesThe first version i heard was Johnny Cash's, and i thought it was a great song and i thought the video was really emotional as well. When i saw NIN video i thought it was a class song as well, and that the video was really emotional as well. Its just that they both touch on different emotions. You can't say which versions better as Cashs version has a country sound and NIN's has a rock sound to it. They may have the same lyrics but they're totally different songs.
  • Mick from Las Vegas, Nv"Every one I know, goes away in the end....." Sad.
  • Tyler from Wellington, OhThis song is about Heroine addiction. Hint the words "The Needle tears a Hole".. A Buh Dah
  • Melissa from Melville, NyMy empire of dirt means like all of the fame, the money, and everything that's accumulated, and that it means that he'd give it all away
  • Amy from Lawrence, Ksi really like the Johnny Cassh Version. But The NIN version is great aswell. The song is one of my favorites becasue it has such strong lyrics and its perfect mood music.
  • Hac Barton from Las Vegas, NvJohnny Cash was an amazing songwriter and performer, but he can't take away from the pure emotion Trent Reznor put into this song. No matter what his damn video looked like, 'Hurt' is not Johnny Cash's song. I've never seen NIN in concert, but I can just imagine the pure emotion he puts into this song when he performs it. The fact that there is no NIN video for this song makes it even better, because you're left with your own demons as you listen to it, not some image of the artist wandering around his house. That's all music is, that artist connecting to the listener, through SOUND, not some damn conglomerated video. I hate music videos, I hate MTV. PS:: On the second chorus, you can hear Reznor's lips seperating, and the first time I heard this song that was the sound that stuck out because you realized that it wasn't some Godly artist away in a studio or up on stage, but just a human.
  • Brett from Adelaide, AustraliaI cried when I first heard this song! but it is definetely one of my fav NIN songs
  • Marius from Lüneburg, GermanyTrent Reznor performed 'Hurt' in a acoustic version for the "REACT NOW" show (in memory on the hurrican victims)...
    And there is also a version out there with David Bowie.
  • Elena from Somewhere, Pathey also do NOT play hurt last every show
  • Elena from Somewhere, PaIt's not true that Trent isn't playing Hurt anymore, I saw them on May 16, 2005 in NYC and he played it. He also played it at the hurricane relief concert. I'll be attending another show in November, and I'll be quite shocked if he doesn't play it there too. The fact of the matter is that if Trent Reznor sang this song in his old age, near death from a life of drugs, people would say the same thing they said about Cash, how it's so much more moving and whatnot (i wonder how much of this emotion is a product of the video, not the music?) I hope and pray that Reznor NEVER quits playing this song, because it is a wonderful song and it is HIS. When he performed hurt, it was amazing. The way all the fans just sort of stopped and watched and listened. No moshing, no screaming, no jumping around. Everyone just sang along and shared a wonderful moment. It was an insane experience, the shift of atmosphere so suddenly and immensely. Thank GOD Trent will continue sharing it with us!
  • Kaitlyn from Newburgh, NyThis is one of my favorite NIN songs. Trent conveys so much emotion in this song. Personally, I don't like the cash version that much but I still find his music video to be touching.
  • Keewa from Fairbanks, AlI absolutely adore the Cash song.
  • Melissa from Melville, NyHurt by the nine inch nails is my all time favorite song. It has a lot of power, and the first few times I listened to it, I got a little teary eyed.

    I did a little research on it, read a bunch of articles, and it turns out that the song IS about Reznor's heroine addiction, which he overcame. It's not about cutting, or a relationship. But, it can mean different things to different people.

    I'll prolly always love this song, no matter what simply because it has an amazing effect on people. Yeah, I like nin's version a lot better.
  • Alejandro from Mexico D.f., Mexicothis is the saddest song ever writen... there is no other song in the world that express so much sadness, pain and loneliness.
  • Merrie from Clive, IaI happen to like Cash's version better, but NIN has done some covers that I like better than the original. Physical (track 99 on the Broken EP) was written and performed by Adam Ant. NIN does a much better job on that. Also, the "B" side of the Sin single has a cover of Queen's "Get Down, Make Love" that just blows away Queens version. I think that Cash and Reznor are coming at it from different perspectives. Both are moving, but for different reasons. I didn't even realize it was the same song at first. I think it's about more than drug use. It's about lost opportunities and a life wasted. Although I would never call Johnny Cash's life "wasted". I know this is about NIN, but if you want to hear another good song that Johnny covered, it's Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down".
  • Jude from Thomasville, GaThe title of the song is appropriate, because it really hurt to watch Johnny Cash's video. It was literally painful, but I;know why he made it and I'm glad he did. Schools should stop showing all those boring anti-drug films and show this instead. Thank you, Trevor, for writing this song.
  • Ben from Melbourne, Australiai like both versions. Trent's seems like a man who built up something only to see it fall down around him when he got greedy or corrupt, (falling down = his life, greedy or corrupt = drugs) and Cash's version seems like a man looking back on his life and see's it wasted. they're both horribly beautiful songs.

    also, I'm not sure if this is true (my girlsfriends sister told me) that as a tribute to the man in black, NIN will never perform the song again, effectivly trying to make it Cash's song.

    BTW i thin we should al relaise that we shouldn't take what other people are saying too seriously, we're posting opinions, not facts
  • Rick from Toronto, Canadai was at one day, when i found a link to hurt/cash. i watched the video and instantly connected with it on many levels. johnny has always been around but i'd never particularly paid much attention to him. this brilliant song speaks to all of us. fans of music. as a result of stumbling upon cash/hurt, i am now running to get reznor/hurt. for those who know little about johnny cash like me, after i read the tributes from some of my personal favourite musicians on where i learned how much of a true music giant he was. in the fall of 1969, he was outselling the beatles and was considered the hottest act in the world. finally, over 100 acts have recorded cash's "i walk the line".

    after reznor heard cash's recording he felt "a little invaded. a couple of weeks after that i saw the video. and that's when it all came together. i got goosebumps, i welled up with tears and i knew it wasn't my song anymore. and i say that not in a jealous way. hearing this song come back at me, a completely different interpretation, and having it have arguably more power than my version. it was unusual. i come from rural pennsylvania and i think when the cash version came out it got around that i wrote it, and suddenly people there thought i'd made it." Now that's a classy guy.
  • Alex from Toronto, CanadaI signed up just to post on this stupid discussion. For those of you who claim Johnny Cash's version of the video "hurt" is really haven't seen NIN version of it. It is Reznor singing infront of a large white curtain with some crazy images behind him. It is probably the most powerful video I have ever seen. No screaming here whatsoever. Sure Johnny was dying and that makes it epic, but seriously watch the NIN video before you comment. Seeing Reznor cry during the video just shows you how deep and personal the song really is to him. I'm thinking those of you who are saying Cash did a better job weren't alive when NIN were peaking. Watch the video than post will deffinatly change your opinion.
  • Jesse from West Monroe, LaIt seems to me that the two songs appeal to different people. I agree that niether version is better than the other.
  • Haukur from Reykjavik, IcelandCash's age, fragility, sickness, experience and professional touch makes this song so memorable. The composer Trent Reznor made a brilliant foundation for this "will-be" Johnny Cash's final orbituary.
  • Jordan from WvI keep reading all these posts about how Cash brought out the "true meaning" of the song that Reznor couldn't. Yet you can't explain what this "true meaning" is since they are Reznor's words.
  • Bridget from Hull, CanadaJohnny Cash = God
  • Toby from Wolverhampton, Englandi still maintain that the cash version misses the ending of the nin version...i feel that when i listen to cash's that theres just no pay off after the build up.
  • Tim from Kilkenny, IrelandI have to say - Johnny Cash's cover is immaculate, magnificent, perfect. I adore it. It sends shivers down my spine whenever I hear it. NIN are cool, I admit . . . but Johnny made that song his own. I don't care how much people complain about him "stealing" it. Covers can be better than the original. How about "Personal Jesus" by . . . er . . . Johnny Cash. Damn.
  • Ziv from Portland, OrTo be honest i love the cash cover way more then the original he makes it really sad and expresses the true meanning of the song i love it is is sad
  • Ryan from Fredericton, CanadaCash brings alot more to this than just what Reznor wrote into it. Years of experience and "hurt" get poured into this. Yes, its slower, but it brings a depth of sadness to it that a faster-paced screaming version wouldn't have. The emotion that pours from Cash's song is entirely different than the Nine Inch Nails version. You can really feel the heartache that's felt when you let someone down, as the character in the song does. You can feel his pain. Johnny Cash brought alot to a song that already had alot going for it, and we should appreciate it for what it is, an amazing cover of an amazing song.
  • Toby from Wolverhampton, England"There is no possible way that one version can be better than the's the same song"

    quite possibly the stupidist thing i've ever heard of course different versions of the same song can be better than others

    all saints - under the bridge...awful awful awful
  • Sara from Winnipeg, CanadaThere is no possible way that one version can be better than the's the same song. Every person who likes hearing Johnny sing "hurt" is a huge compliment to Trent. It's not about who exploited the song or sang it more clearly, the bottom line is its the same song and Johnny was an outlet for it.It's the same song guys, regardless of who is singing it. The same song.
  • Lee from Norwal, IaYou are all fighting over whose version is better. Stop. It is true that "hurt" is was the last song played by NIN at a concert, but trent will no longer play it because he has alot of respect for cash and that is his way of honoring him, he essentially "gave" him the song, I am a die hard NIN fan, It doesnt matter whose version is better, the man who wrote it is honored to have had johnny cover his song, now johnny's song
  • Randall from Dallas, TxOk... Number one: Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) wrote the song. Number two: Johnny Cash did a cover of it because it reflected his life. It wasn't a contest to see who could make the song better. Johnny probably knew this would be his last album, and wanted to make it the most personal. Therefore, he put that song in there, which apparently he had a very personal connection with.
  • Danica from Cairns, AustraliaHey I found out the chords that are struck at the end of this song, are actually supposed to symbolise a gunshot.
  • Kelly from Orange, Cai personally hated that jonny cash did a cover of this song. this is my Favorite song ever and he completely exploited it. thats why i like Nine Inch Nails so much they werent very exploited. except for a few songs and jonny cash took one of the less exploited ones.
  • Melissa from Brandon, CanadaThere are many messages one can recieve through music
    and i hear the message from the late johnny Cash through this song "HURT" does anyone else?
  • Grey from Knoxville, TnWell first off...lets not forget that Trent Reznor is undoubtedly the best one man band in the world right can you even say Cash's version is better? Cash is great yeah, but he was old when he did it, he did it because Rick Ruben told him to...and Rick produced both of the albums...(downward spriral(NIN) and american IV, the man comes around(cash's))and thought it would be a great fit for johnny,..FYI..Rick had to edit and take out the cuss word in Trent's version before he let Johnny hear it because he knew he would have turned it down...and Melanie...honestly...if you would quit screaming along with the lyrics to songs..maybe you could listen to think?
  • Toby from Wolverhampton, EnglandMelanie, I love your use of capitals.

    But I think the only reason cash's version is liked more is because its plain easier to listen to that Trent's original and better version, the songs about a personal struggle and lets be honest anyone who's been in that position with drugs will testify that its horrific. The song is intentionally an assault on the senses, your not supposed to feel a love to the song in the same way you do with cash's and that?s why his version suffers, its a warning and its got a hell of a lot more power for being that way.

    The power of it comes across when played live, Trent plays in front or behind a huge screen portraying some pretty nasty images, its dark, its uncomfortable and its engrossing.

    You might be able to understand cash's lyrics, but do you understand them in the right context?
  • Adam from London, EnglandJohnny Cash's version is one of the most powerful songs I have ever heard. I could not believe the emotion when I first heard it - I had to stop and it had a great impact upon me. It is one of my favourite songs ever.
  • Brett from Anchorage, AkBoth versions are great versions in their own right. The NIN version is a very expressive version, while Cash's version is bare bones. Yet both versions manage to capture the emotion of the song in two very distinct ways. NIN's version exposes the feebleness and frustrations of drug addiction in the verse and chorus respectively, while Johnny's version shows appeals to a more raw weariness that comes from years suffering. I'm not a big fan of country at all. In fact I can't stand most of it. Nine Inches Nails is a lot more suited to my tastes. I didn't like Johnny's version much at first, but it really grew on me. Neither one is really better. They are both good in different ways.
  • Alex from Kitchener, AlNo disrespect or anything, but i think that Cash's version of this song is terrible.
  • Ian from New York, NyMan we need some more NIN facts. Please if you know any post them.
  • Melanie from Martin, TnToby, the "fuss" over his cover was mostly well before Johnny died. His death had nothing to do with the acclaim rightly given. Yes, it is an NIN song and Trent wrote an amazing and highly personal song. However, Johnny brought to it a depth of time and experience that Trent doesn't have. It took on a much deeper meaning. And the only reason I am writing about Johnny's version here and not NIN's is because there is only an entry for this song under NIN. I have heard both versions and frankly, Johnny's is better as far as I am concerned, if only because you can actually UNDERSTAND the wonderful lyrics Trent wrote.
  • Paige from Toronto, CanadaWhy are all the songfacts about Johnny Cash. I've got respect for the man, but this was for hurt by NINE INCH NAILS, not hurt for JOHNNY CASH. like i said, i love johnny cash, but i think i've heard enough credit given to him for hurt. it wasn't his song, it never was. god rest his soul. more nine inch nails.
  • Toby from Wolverhampton, Englandi think if he hadn't of died people wouldn't fuss about his cover, i do prefer the NIN version, its got more power...if you take out the fact that its cash's last major song and put them on a level ground Trent's is the superior version
  • Jake from Albuquerque, NmI like Jonny Cash's version of the song. He uses his life experiences to help the viewer understand what pain and anguish he is feeling. I have to say to NIN I am sorry, I am a big fan but Jonny cash does a better job with this song.
  • Larry from Arlington, TxThis song has a two-fold meaning. One being the destructive nature of heroin as the obvious meaning. But to look deeper and apply the meaning of other songs from The Downward Spiral, the underlying meaning of this song is how media acceptance and need to belong to something or represent something false is addicting and destructive and hollow.
  • Jason from Wylie, Txi like both versions of the song and im a fan of both nin and johnny cash i think johnny cash's take on the song is even better than the orignal and cash's video is hauntenly tragic and beutiful
  • Jake from Traverse City, MiOne of the greatest songs ever, the last track on the NIN album the downward spiral. Reznor is a musical genious
  • Jenny from Sussex, NjMark Romanek also directed the video "Closer" for NIN.
  • Erik from Davis, CaJohnny Cash died on September 12th, 2003 of complictions associated with Diabetes. He was 71 years old.
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