Looking back: Trent Reznor on Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt”

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One unique story in the music industry was when the legendary Johnny Cash covered Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt” back in 2003. It’s a story HIP Video Promo helped tell by promoting the iconic video to programmers everywhere. It was one of the first big names we ever got to work with, and it was an honor to work with such a legend.

 Johnny’s version of “Hurt” was transcendent, and it touched everyone who heard it – including the man himself, Nine Inch Nail’s very own Trent Reznor. In a 2019 interview, Trent Reznor talked about his song, and the emotional impact Johnny’s version had on him.

At the time of the cover, Trent Reznor was in New Orleans working on a new project when he got a call about Johnny Cash. Extremely flattered, Trent gave the music legend permission to cover his song. A couple of weeks went by with Trent hard at work on his project when a CD shows up with the new cover. When he first listened to the song, he described it as odd to hear Johnny’s powerful voice singing his song. His reaction to the cover was a bit of surprised as he said he dismissed it at first. It wasn’t until he watched the video that the impact of Johnny Cash’s version got to him. Not only did it give him a confidence boost in what he was doing, but he was reminded of music and the beautiful impact it can have, how lyrics sound different and have different meanings based on who’s singing them. Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” still brings music lovers to tears and remains one of the industry’s most intriguing stories. We’re truly honored to have been a part of it.

Watch Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” video”:

And listen to Trent Reznor’s reaction to the cover:


Written by HIP intern Rebecca Karaman.