Saturday, February 28, 2015

Got You Covered: Hurt

Today we have a song that has been covered a few times. We'll take a look at the original and two of the covers. And we'll ask 'Who Sang It Best?'

"Hurt" is a song written by Trent Reznor, first released on Nine Inch Nails' 1994 album The Downward Spiral. It received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Song in 1996.

The song clearly includes references to self-harm and heroin addiction, although the overall meaning of the song is disputed. Some listeners contend that the song acts as a suicide note written by the album's protagonist, as a result of his depression, while others claim that it describes the difficult process of finding a reason to live in spite of depression and pain

In 2002, Johnny Cash covered the song for his album, American IV: The Man Comes Around. Its accompanying video, featuring images from Cash's life, was named the best video of the year by the Grammy Awards and CMA Awards, and the best video of all time by NME in July 2011.

When Trent Reznor was asked if Cash could cover his song, Reznor said he was "flattered" but worried that "the idea sounded a bit gimmicky." He became a fan of Cash's version, however, once he saw the music video.

 I pop the video in, and wow... Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps... Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore... It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure.

71 years of age at the time of filming (in February 2003), Cash had serious health problems and his frailty is clearly evident in the video. He died seven months later (September 12); his wife, June Carter Cash, who participated in the video, died three months after filming (May 15), closely preceding him in death.

This would be the last music video that Johnny Cash would ever make.

British singer Leona Lewis covered the song as well, and included it on her first EP, Hurt: The EP. The song was met with mixed reviews. Lewis told Radio 1's Newsbeat, "People write music and the music is out there for people to interpret it how they want to. As long as it's coming from a genuine place. I actually am a big fan of that song and a big fan of the Johnny Cash cover. But that song in particular really speaks to me. Lyrically it's a song that is very intense and has painful lyrics."

And now that you've been exposed to 3 versions of the same song... Who do you think sang it best?

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