In 1994 Trent Reznor recorded the song “Hurt,” and in 2002 Johnny Cash covered it. The differences in the two versions of the same song are powerful. Both songs (and music videos) stand as a testament to the power of art. Watch for the differences in images in the videos and the changes Cash makes to the lyrics of the song. As in all art, the artists worldview comes through unmistakably in these two pieces. There are wonderful things about each, and I’ll leave you to find those things for yourselves, but I will say one thing I love about these videos. They are incredibly honest. Reznor’s piece is a heartbreaking statement about the sadness and utter pain of life at times. It seems to ask the question “Is there any way out of despair?” suggesting that, perhaps, there is not. Cash’s piece is honest in a different way. His “hurt” comes also from the mistakes of the past, but there is the glow of hope permeating throughout. Watch your emotions at the end of each video and ask yourself the question: How can these two worldviews be views of the same world?
When Reznor first heard Cash’s cover this was his response:
“I pop the video in, and wow… Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. 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.”