Submitted by confrita t3_z5kfdt in Music


Today I was listening to 'The Downward Spiral' and remembered that Johnny Cash did a cover of the last song, 'Hurt'. I've listened it a couple of years ago, but oh man it didn't hit me so hard as today!

For some reason Cash's version it's sooo much powerful for me, to the point that I can listen to the original without a problem, but Cash's rendition makes me cry every damn time.

Why do you think about that cover? I know it's old by now, but today I rediscovered it and would like to know what other people think about that version?

Have a good day!



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jonnyinternet t1_ixwl73b wrote

NIN: probably the angriest thing I've ever heard. A masterpiece

JC: probably the saddest thing I've ever heard. A masterpiece


confrita OP t1_ixwmuqx wrote

Ok that's actually an excellent description of both songs!


HunnyBunion t1_ixx8oxk wrote

Sure but hurt isn't angry at all. It's mournful and regretful.

The meaning of the song didn't really change with the artist, just the specifics of the loss and regret


KuhlThing t1_ixxhn34 wrote

The anger of the original is aimed internally. It isn't a loud blaze, but old embers. It's still hot, it's just not flashy.


jonnyinternet t1_ixyx5wu wrote

You don't have to be screaming to be angry. Hurt is a different anger, more mature


HunnyBunion t1_ixyxwy9 wrote

Fair enough .

The language/tone/ message of the song ( as I understand it ) Lacks anything I would attribute to anger in that sense though. Subjective to a degree I suppose.


VolkspanzerIsME t1_ixxa50l wrote

Only music video I cried like a baby to. It's absolutely heartbreaking.


Al_pa-Chino t1_ixxlw59 wrote

Wanna have a good cry, listen to My Immortal while applying its message to someone you love


Fluffy_Little_Fox t1_ixxxqu2 wrote

Someone will disagree but I think JC's "Hurt" cover and his cover of "If You Could Read My Mind" by Gordon Lightfoot are on equal...... footing ...

That was not planned. I just kinda backed myself into it.


1clovett t1_ixwk7em wrote

I love Johnny Cash's cover. I believe that it hits so hard because Cash recorded th3 cover when old, he sang from a life time of having made poor decisions and reflection.


VolkspanzerIsME t1_ixxaayn wrote

Have you seen the music video? It's a gut punch of him singing with snapshots of his life and all he'd lost. I cried like a bitch the first time I saw it.


Nasty_Ned t1_ixymo6z wrote

To me it showed what was valuable to him and in the end what was not. The accolades, the fame and the money were not important. People, where you were from and those that you cared about were what mattered.


VolkspanzerIsME t1_iy02git wrote

To me he was saying that if he could go back and do it all over again he wouldn't.


Nasty_Ned t1_iy147l6 wrote

Agree. To me he was saying he would have stayed small time playing local venues and whatever to make ends meet. The juice was not worth the squeeze.


VolkspanzerIsME t1_iy178ea wrote

A pyrrhic victory of life. Johnny Cash is such a tragic story. Dude had everything and nothing all at once and in the end the bill wasn't worth the meal.


2giga2dweebish t1_ixwq2sm wrote

I'll be honest - while I do get the appeal of Cash's performance, I prefer the sheer desolate, angry sound of NIN. It's very special as a closer to the Downward Spiral, and the other version is just a cover... a very good cover, but a cover nonetheless.


confrita OP t1_ixwrl3c wrote

Of course, for me the original version it's an amazing closer track of an amazing album. Cash's cover just works better as an isolated song for me


queensnyatty t1_ixww17d wrote

Same words but one is about a young man’s heroin addiction and the other about an old man with a lifetime of regrets.

Depending on your life experience one or other might resonate with you more.


JedExi t1_ixxetjy wrote

Hurt isn't just about heroin addiction wat


queensnyatty t1_ixxkhqg wrote

🎼The needle tears a hole, the old familiar sting.


JedExi t1_ixxo61t wrote

One line in the song doesn't mean the song is centered around it. Hurt is the epilogue to the Downward Spiral, the song before features the protagonist's suicide. Heroin isn't the only problem he had.


dpman48 t1_ixzn5b1 wrote

Johnny cash also struggled with addiction (amphetamines, alcohol and sedatives). Wouldn’t be surprised if there was heroin as well. But many of his lifetime of regrets are related to the same things we associate the original recording with.


Strang3rs_Inside t1_iy02qa6 wrote

So Trent Reznor didn’t do heroin there buddy.

He was an alcoholic and cocaine addict. He got sober after accidentally snorting heroin which he believed was cocaine.


YoshimiUnicorns t1_ixy6nsz wrote

That's true, but even if it's just a cover it hits even harder than NIN's version ever could when you consider Cash pretty much sang it as a closer to his life, and all the loss and regret that came with it. Trent's version is a story, Johnny's is a memoir


Notinyourbushes t1_ixwln77 wrote

Trent himself said that after Johnny sang it, it wasn't his song anymore. It was Johnny's.

Just going to edit this and including a link so anyone who's interested can hear the full story.

Trent video commentary


mynewnameonhere t1_ixxplov wrote

Someone says this in every thread about this song, but I’ve never seen a single source. Here’s a source of something Trent actually said, though.

>"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."


-00-- t1_ixxr0n3 wrote

NIN’s songwriter, Trent Reznor prolifically responded to Cash’s “Hurt” cover with: “I wasn’t prepared for what I saw, and it really then, wasn’t my song anymore.” There was no warning that Cash would be covering “Hurt.” Reznor said.


TheOneHundredEmoji t1_ixy5yjd wrote

That's not what prolific means


-00-- t1_iyactas wrote


you should contact the author of the article and let them know.


mynewnameonhere t1_ixxrddk wrote

That article doesn’t provide a source. It simply says that he said it without saying when or where he said it or linking to a source. If you even read the actual article about the interview that article links to, he says the opposite. He says when he was initially asked if Cash could cover one of his songs, he was honored. But then when he heard Hurt, because he didn’t know which song he was going to do, it felt invasive.


-00-- t1_ixxv2yd wrote

Try this one on for size. At the end.

Edit: add a link to the FT. Quote from TR at the end.

"At the end of the video, Cash, silhouetted by a harsh yellow light, closes the lid of the piano and rests his ageing hands on top of it. Reznor’s “valentine to the sufferer” at that point became Cash’s swan song. After watching it, Reznor said: “That song isn’t mine any more.”

The song is haunting. The video is intense.


HanHeite t1_ixwqm4o wrote

No, he did not


Notinyourbushes t1_ixws294 wrote

Uh, yeah. He did.



mynewnameonhere t1_ixxqk51 wrote

I’ve looked for an actual source for that quote and I can’t find one. That article even says he said it but doesn’t provide a source. Without a source, it’s no better than a Reddit comment claiming he said it.

If you even read the actual article about the interview that article links to, he says the opposite. He says when he was initially asked if Cash could cover one of his songs, he was honored. But then when he heard Hurt, because he didn’t know which song he was going to do, it felt invasive.


mynewnameonhere t1_ixy9yq1 wrote

That’s it? Wow you people have completely taken that out of context. This is actually making me mad now.

First he said the song sounded weird to him because it was his song being played differently. Then he said after seeing the video, it didn’t sound like his anymore. He’s saying “it wasn’t my song anymore” meaning he wasn’t hearing his song being played differently; he was hearing a completely different song. How you got that he meant the song belonged to Cash now, I have no idea. That’s completely crazy.


Notinyourbushes t1_ixybkrq wrote

You're hearing what you want to hear. You don't say you finish watching a video with “tears welling, silence, goosebumps” just because its "being played differently."

“What I had written in my diary was now superimposed on the life of this icon and sung so beautifully and emotionally. It was a reminder of what an important medium music is. Goosebumps up the spine. It really made sense. I thought: ‘What a powerful piece of art.’ I never got to meet Johnny, but I’m happy I contributed in the way I did. It wasn’t my song any more.”

If you don't see it, it's because you either don't want to or you don't understand what he's saying when he uses the word superimposed.


HanHeite t1_ixy5qje wrote

Yeah fuck face, read the article maybe? He didnt say that, he never did


mcnathan80 t1_ixyw27r wrote

Lol at the fuck face, this is what I come to reddit for 🤣


HanHeite t1_ixz1jev wrote

Haha, well he called me a dumbass, then link a unreliable article

Then everbody downvotes me …

Reddit in a nutshell


mcnathan80 t1_ixz1tyy wrote

The dumbass was funny, and the fuckface was the clincher


nomorelurken t1_ixxhbdc wrote

Try not to dismiss new information without at least spending 5 seconds investigating it.


mynewnameonhere t1_ixxqppz wrote

If it only takes five seconds, then you should be able to easily provide a source. But I’m willing to bet you can’t.


intrepid_lemon t1_ixxpzvi wrote

I understand conceptually that Cash’s rendition is heartbreaking but it just doesn’t reach me emotionally. Team NIN


Rodgers4 t1_ixwprkl wrote

For me it’s 1a and 1b for Cash’s cover of Hurt and Michael Jackson’s cover of Eat It.


mcnathan80 t1_ixyvjh2 wrote

For real, I didn't even know Weird Al did his first until I saw the documentary!


fantasmoofrcc t1_ixzlhp7 wrote

I like how they dragged out the whole rant to like 10 minutes.


mcnathan80 t1_ixzmr0d wrote

I enjoy the entirity of weird Al's life in 10 minute increments


AdHelpful7287 t1_ixwn1vf wrote

Loved it. I've heard someone say before about Cash that It's like he always makes them his own. That has never been more true than with that song.

The music video is so emotional too, intersplicing clips of a young Cash with an aging cash.

I really like his cover of Personal Jesus on the same album.


torbaloymain t1_ixy1vqp wrote

That whole album feels like Johnny Cash's death rattle. It is wonderful. I hung my head stands out as another great sad one.


Head-like-a-carp t1_ixyy52f wrote

I loved "The Man Come Around" for a man standing close to his end it was like he was looking into the other side


Lopocalypse t1_ixwrg96 wrote

Try NIN’s And All That Could Have Been live album. NIN sounds better outside of the studio. I’m not sure if they have had another good live album since then.


Jolp4683 t1_iy132r4 wrote

I saw him this last Summer in Raleigh and he fucking killed hurt! 🤘


Tobias_flenderz t1_ixxywh0 wrote

Less heavy, but Johnny's cover of Soundgarden's essential track Rusty Cage is such a cool reimagining. It's overshadowed by Hurt, and deservedly so, but I'll always petition for people to check it out when I'm replying in threads about covers.


Jolp4683 t1_iy138le wrote

That whole album is great, Rick Rubin produced it so it sounds awesome too


Tobias_flenderz t1_iy13nqx wrote

I like all the Rubin-produced Cash records, even the ones where John sounds old and haggard as hell, because it's all captured so well and it fits.


Previous_Raccoon6305 t1_ixwxgiz wrote

A man in the last years of his life who had lost the love of his life and was struggling with his own mortality.So beautiful,so painful.

harleyspoison267 t1_ixwnas5 wrote

Yeah that song is one of his best and he didn't even write it but it really doesn't matter for that one. Another commenter is right that the music video is gutwrenching. It messes me up every time and i must have heard it a hundred times by now.


confrita OP t1_ixwnkqd wrote

Oh yes! I try to avoid watching the video because it hits so hard!


kwali87 t1_ixxkmoh wrote

NIN version affected me a lot more than Cashs version. They’re both amazing, but i heard and felt the pain more through Trent. Perhaps as I get older and experience more of life’s negatives Cashs version will hit harder


Bryn79 t1_ixy0smq wrote

That’s the thing with great songs. They follow you through life and reveal new meaning and emotions. There are songs that are great when you’re young but fewer that will resonate as strongly when you get old.

The River and Hurt are two such songs.


Publius_Enigma7796 t1_ixwotji wrote

Trent has praised Cash’s version so much and comparing to “like having your girlfriend stolen by your best friend” he has the utmost respect for it.


mynewnameonhere t1_ixxqbkr wrote

No he didn’t. Here’s what he actually said.

>"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."


mcgato t1_ixx2cgr wrote

I like the Cash version. I always thought it was Johnny Cash singing his own eulogy.


HunnyBunion t1_ixx84kp wrote

No question the original is better ( subjectively of course) The meaning and culmination of the story the album is hard to top .

Cover version is great because it's Johnny cash and carries a totally different gravitas because of who he is and what is life was.

But if you take away that it's Johnny cash , his version is kind of crap


Gixxerfool t1_ixxcthe wrote

If no one here has seen it, Netflix has a show called Song Exploder which the interviewer goes in a deep dive with Reznor about this song. I thought this with Pretty Hate Machine and I believe it even more so today, Reznor is completely under appreciated.


atbths t1_ixxf92k wrote

He's pretty well appreciated in the music world. It seems like anyone that has a deeper than surface level interest in music at least respects his work if not enjoys it.


Gixxerfool t1_ixxfiwt wrote

That’s sort of what I was alluding to. I guess in a way that’s great for those of us who do appreciate as he never fell into the mainstream trap. He only did Reznor and nothing else. Anyone else dismissed him as noise or crazy and never actually gave him the time of day.


atbths t1_ixxfogw wrote

I'm glad he never hit that level - I can still afford concert tickets.


Gixxerfool t1_ixxfv71 wrote

If I recall correctly he attempted to bypass TM a while back, but it didn’t work. Maybe the latest fiasco will change that. Doubt it, but maybe.


Jonestown_Juice t1_ixwwxyx wrote

This has got to be on the Hall of Fame by now.

Edit: It is.


OhShitItsSeth t1_ixxs7ck wrote

Johnny Cash's cover is understandably the most-loved version of the song, but I think NIN's original has its own greatness.

Sung by Trent Reznor in its original form, it's from the perspective of a man who is addicted to drugs and self-harm, and is likely jaded, having peaked years ago, and now just spends his days wallowing in his own sadness. "I wear this crown of shit" is a powerful line.

As for the Johnny Cash version, we see a man who is at the end of his life, has lost nearly everyone he's ever loved (especially his wife), and while he's had a life many only dream of, something in him just feels empty and full of regret. I like that he changed the aforementioned line to "I wear this crown of thorns", in reference to his Christian faith.

Yet, regardless of who sings it, both perspectives feel similar in a kind of eerie way. Two men just full of regret, full of hurt.

I'm probably playing Captain Obvious here, but yeah.


littleb3anpole t1_ixyfm0l wrote

Cash rented it but Trent owns it.

Disclaimer - I am a huge NIN fan. Have loved them for 22 years. Cash’s version comes nowhere near Trent’s original for emotional gut punch for me.


Garland915 t1_ixwnywd wrote

There's a tremble in Cash's voice on the cover. Which makes the lyrics much more impact full. It's full of pain and regret, from a man at the end of his days. Trent Reznor may have written it, but in my eyes it's Johnny's song now. Plus the music video fits his version so much better. The shaky hands, the sad eyes. Reminiscing about the past. It all just fits so well together. It was the perfect cover all around.


bluetriumphantcloud t1_ixwpda7 wrote

To me, this take is cliche, and laughable, at the same time. Let me finish before you downvote me to hell ;)

I'm not trying to be inflammatory, it's just how I feel.

I see why people like Cash's version, and how it introduced a lot of his fans to the music that he covered, but I can't imagine how you could say it's 'better' if you actually loved the original version.

They're totally different, and the NIN one is a masterpiece of modern music, and inspired a lot of followers. The Cash version is a novelty imo. It's cool, it's different. But better than the original? I guess if you don't like the original.


confrita OP t1_ixwqck1 wrote

Mmm I see your point here. To be honest I love the original too, but more in the context of the album that as a isolate piece of music. Don't get me wrong, Trent it the original composer, and without his creativity Cash's version would be obviously impossible, but for some reason I like the latter much more as a isolated song


davidsonrva t1_ixwooc9 wrote

One of the greatest covers of all time imo


dratsablive t1_ixx1b18 wrote

Thing is Johnny wasn't just sing a cover version, he was "hurt" his whole life. Made a career singing about it.


team-evil66 t1_ixx5fb2 wrote

Dude even Trent said it's Cash's song now, it's an amazing cover from a different place but still so deep.


Coffeedemon t1_ixxolf2 wrote

I like Cash's cover but the production isn't great. Rubin just jacked the levels and it turns into another victim of the loudness war.


GOM27 t1_ixxz1et wrote

If you know he was sick and dying when he recorded his version, if you know his history and all the shit he went through, what he put his family through.... It makes that song hit really hard.


Bear_Hoonden t1_ixy1oiv wrote

I heard about an interview Trent Reznor did where he stated that he felt like the song was no longer his and compared it to having a girlfriend stolen from him. He was appreciative and honored, or something like that.


ChefCory t1_ixy2pwl wrote

NIN version hits me harder.


dinketry t1_ixy4f1t wrote

When Trent Reznor heard Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt”, he said “I don’t think that’s my song anymore.”


ObiWanSkippy t1_ixy6q9w wrote

Johnny Cash also does a version of Personal Jesus! He rocks out on that one!


AerynBevo t1_ixy8rdc wrote

Just curious about something. Those of you who prefer the NIN version, how old are you?

Asking because I wonder if the Cash version hits harder for those of us who are older.

No judgement at all. Just a thought. Ignore if you prefer.


bruh_970 t1_ixyqrac wrote

Johnny cashes version hits me harder and im only 14


Averen t1_ixz7beb wrote

The cover is fantastic. I believe you can find it where Trent basically relinquishes ownership of the song over to cash because he liked the cover so much


beraleh t1_ixzgrhz wrote

It's on my playlist so it comes around once in a while. But sometimes, out with the dog on a walk or while stoned I focus on the nuances of the hoarse voice, the lyrics and the arrangement with the dramatic piano and it hits me really hard. One of those rare cases of a cover possibly eclipsing the original. Although the original is pretty heart wrenching too.


LordByrum t1_ixwrrsa wrote

Thirteen > Hurt but both are elite versions by Cash


Shemoose t1_ixx6cgj wrote

I've been listening to to mist days the past 3 weeks since my dad died. Its such a powerful song . Poetic and so sad. He knows his life is almost over and he has a excerstencial crisis. Its rekindled my love for this song.


1521 t1_ixy5hb8 wrote

Sorry for your loss… it does get easier to deal with


TheReginaProject t1_ixxl9ed wrote

So weird you mention this! I heard it a few hours ago on a local radio station and I thought—holy eff I never realized how powerful the lyrics were—he sings them so clearly and in a raw and real simple way that it gave me chills. I’ve heard it plenty of times before—especially Trent Reznor’s original…but today I felt it hard. Dang. Life is bizarre.


TheKillingMoon30 t1_ixxu4s2 wrote

Original is still better; trents narcissism/emo self makes it better


RedditorNumber679260 t1_ixxxhot wrote

If you like that song???

“Something I can Never Have” - NIN on “Pretty Hate Machine”

^ That song is like Hurt, just as heart wrenching


ObiWanSkippy t1_ixy6mla wrote

I convinced my ex wife to teach her high school English students these two songs and the affect that tone has on the words. One, NIN version, has a whole lot of self pity and self doubt. But when you play the other, Cash, it’s a deathbed confessional/apology.

Both very powerful and moving but the tone give them each a very different meaning.


wildhogrecords t1_ixylzeo wrote

This exactly - the difference in the 2 songs is the angle they approach it from. Cash’s deathbed approach really hits even harder when you watch the video. Gets me every time


auracles060 t1_ixya8d9 wrote

One of my favourite songs ever and means so much to me. I discovered it when I was 15 after going through a terrible months-long depression and self harm and it made feel cathartic and level for the first time at the time. Felt safe hearing it.


Soulsingin1 t1_ixyg6k3 wrote

Johnny Cash version all the way for me.


goboxey t1_ixyicmz wrote

Cash's version all the way. This guy knows what regret and lament means.


highafwolf420 t1_ixyn0ml wrote

Dude I thought he was the original artist for the song someone else did the original, who???


Averen t1_ixz76ms wrote

Nine inch nails


highafwolf420 t1_ixzwt1p wrote

Dude really??? The fact that they were the original artist for the song is such dog shit, the audio mixing is so horrid or maybe I am just listening to bad versions but that breakdown was the worst I ever heard can't even bear listening too


Averen t1_iy04d0i wrote

The original is great too. Obviously if you’re not a big NIN fan you probably won’t like it


Head-like-a-carp t1_ixyv46l wrote

That whole final album is an emotional tour de force but your right his version of Hurt is especially powerful


Albus_Q t1_ixyxt2f wrote

Even Trent likes Cash’s version better. I did hear Bowie sing it back in 1995 when he toured with NIN. That was pretty special too.


Balrog71 t1_ixz09gg wrote

It's been my karaoke pick a few times.


Ok_Caterpillar4181 t1_ixzf51l wrote

I enjoy the Johnny Cash. I even used to cover it when I was into music. It's one of his best songs really. It had a lot of meaning bc he was older at the time. It just makes sense.


Ok-Basket2305 t1_iy02401 wrote

Mumford & Sons covered this song too. I liked it.


The__Groke t1_iy027xx wrote

I love that Johnny Cash changed the word ‘shit’ to ‘dirt’. It just makes the whole thing classier.


Limburger52 t1_iy0gyj7 wrote

What makes Cash’s version so powerful is the video that went with it. You see him as a young man. You see his wife June Carter (my dearest friend) who passed away not long after the video was recorded. You see Cash himself surrounded by the trappings of his succes and you see the wreck if a man who is near the end and reflects on his life singing in his creaking but recognizable voice. You forget all about that the original lyrics were about drug abuse. He shuts the lid on the piano and that is the end. All done. No more. He is finished.


KO620181 t1_ixxr896 wrote

Why did I just go watch the Cash video? I knew what I was in for. Why did I do it? Why.


Master-File-9866 t1_ixx1toa wrote

Here is the thing.

2 different artists same lyrics.

2 absolutley different meanings.

Trent Reznor has come out on the record saying cashs version is so strong and powerful that it is his song now.

Reznor wrote it about drug use and regret about the impact drugs have on life.

Cash sang it still about regret but on the topic of his amazing life and all that happened in it. Also his deep powerful voice, that voice that has decayed over the years, well that just adds to the impact of his version of the song.

I can sit and listen to cash singing hurt in the back ground, and enjoy it for what it is. Alternatively I can dim the lights remove as many sensory items as possible and intently listen to the man in black sing the tale of his life and with enough focus get emotional as I can tap into just a tiny little bit of what he is feeling in the performance.


potatoYeetSoup t1_ixybqzc wrote

His cover is brilliant. Cash made it his own like any great cover should be, and personally I prefer his version. It sort of became the swan song to his career


20zilla t1_ixwpgui wrote

I like you because of this😊 thank you


FullRollingBoil t1_ixwwf5w wrote

I never got the hype of the Cash version. Same goes with his Rusty Cage cover. He just seems like an old man trying to be relevant


HitItAnd_Quidditch t1_ixxv2ud wrote

The Johnny Cash cover of “Hurt” is the greatest cover ever made of any song. Enough said.


jcmach1 t1_ixxwr8s wrote

This is the correct answer.

Of a pretty flat, dull song by NIN. I am saying that as a fan BTW. Never a favorite song by them.


jaspex11 t1_ixxdqoj wrote

I recall an interview where rezner was asked his thoughts on Johnny Cash covering his song, and rezner corrected the interviewer by saying something like 'no, no. You don't understand . That's a Johnny Cash song, I just happen to have written it.'


digitalray34 t1_ixwl1fo wrote

It's really good. Definitely a cover that makes people forget the original.


hbxli t1_ixx2w9g wrote

As far as song parodies go, the Johnny Cash version is okay I guess


confrita OP t1_ixzlxdt wrote

Wow you think it's that bad? I mean, I know his cover would never replace the original piece, but I think Cash did an amazing job at giving another interpretation to the feeling of the song