Trent Reznor Admits He "Felt Weird" About Johnny Cash's Cover of "Hurt"

He later came to appreciate it as a reminder of "the power of music and how important it is"

BY Alex HudsonPublished Apr 22, 2024

Johnny Cash's version of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" is arguably one of the most iconic covers of all time — but songwriter Trent Reznor has now admitted that he "felt weird" when he first heard Cash's version of the song.

Speaking with GQ earlier this month, Reznor recalled when Rick Rubin phoned him to ask permission for Johnny Cash to cover the song for 2002's American IV: The Man Comes Around.

Reznor remembered, "It seemed weird. I assumed they're probably doing 100 songs, so. Then I get the recording of it a little bit later, and that felt weird, because that's my song, you know? That big voice in there — it felt weird at the moment. I remember I was in the middle of [1999's] The Fragile when I heard it. [I said] 'I'm not ready to process what this is right now.'"

He continued, "The thought of: 'Here's a thing I wrote from a very intimate place, and it's connected with someone else with a larger-than-life personality, and then oddly becomes a kind of epitaph for his life that happened to be filmed by one of the greatest directors ever [Mark Romanek] and presented in such a beautiful way,' it reminds you of the power of music and how important it is."

Watch Reznor speak about the song in the video below. He also discusses the "mind-blowing" experience of touring with David Bowie and performing the song with him on stage.

Cash's now-completed demo collection Songwriter is due this summer. 

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