Story of the song: 'Hurt', Johnny Cash (2002)

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The Independent Culture

"Hurt" – a song on Nine Inch Nails' 1994 release The Downward Spiral – came to the attention of the country legend Johnny Cash in 2002, through a mutual friend, the producer Rick Rubin. Cash listened to Trent Reznor's song more than 100 times, hailing it as "the best anti-drug song I ever heard", before recording it for the Rubin-produced American IV: The Man Comes Around. Reznor was unsure at first that a Cash cover would be a good thing. "I listened to it, and it seemed incredibly strange and wrong to me to hear that voice with my song," he said.

When Mark Romanek's poignant video for the song was released, however, Reznor was moved to tears. With Cash clearly fading fast, it seemed the powerful version would be his epitaph. "I never got to meet Johnny," said Reznor. "But I'm happy I contributed the way I did. It felt like a warm hug."