#63. Hurt: Johnny Cash: 2002 – Nine Inch Nails: 1994
It has been a busy few weeks, full of all the elements which make life beautiful, heartbreaking, celebratory, encouraging, uplifting and exhausting all at the same time. It is Spring here and in our beautiful Garden City the gardens are spectacular. We have just celebrated another Carnival of Flowers which brings visitors from all over Australia, and overseas as well, to our little patch of the Earth. There has been parties to celebrate life’s milestones, hospitality extended, a funeral and a weekend of fellowship, spiritual and physical nourishment at our Gipps Street 2022 Toowoomba Lectureship. In the face of all this I have been feeling rather tired; that tiredness that settles in behind the eyes and you are sure everyone can see it there; they can’t, but I sure can feel it. So this week I have been trying to have some down time but also I have been brought face to face, again, with pain and hurt in the lives of those who struggle amidst the sometimes harsh realities of life. All of this has made me think of Johnny Cash’s song, Hurt.
Johhny Cash is not the only person to have made a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song, Hurt. The link above will provide a list of six other covers. First a little history; Hurt was written by Trent Reznor of the American rock band Nine Inch Nails. Reznor says he was in “a bleak and desperate place…totally isolated and alone” and writing these words and music was “a way of staying sane.” Hurt is the closing track on his The Downward Spiral album released in March 1994.
The man in black, Johnny Cash, can sing this song so well because he is no stranger to the emotions of sorrow, regret, tribulation, hurt and the hope of redemption. Many of his songs revolve around these themes. He was a man of compassion, giving free concerts to prisoners and singing about it in Folsom Prison Blues and on his album Johnny Cash at San Quentin. He earnt the nickname “The Man in Black” because he always wore black. In the lyrics of his song of that title he gives all his reasons for his choice of black clothing. He was an humble man who had come from poverty and never forgot that, his addiction to drugs threatened to destroy him and all those close to him but in the midst of all this he was a man of “mountainous religious faith.” He was a man of talent and torment with an urgent need to know the grace and mercy of a loving God.
This clip is very powerful. And I think Cash got it; he understood, the answer to our hurt in is The Cross.
This song was on the last album Cash made. I think he must have known he was close to meeting his Maker. His wife and soul mate of 35 years, June Carter, died in May of 2003 and he followed her in September of the same year. But he has left us his music and it won’t be time wasted to sit and listen to some Johnny Cash’s songs.