Johnny Cash wrote some 103 hits in his 50 plus years as a fully paid-up musician, but it was to be that his rendition of the Nine Inch Nails industrial rock song ‘Hurt’ would be his swansong.
Lifted from his final album ‘The Man Comes Around’, it would be this song that ensures that album’s prominence. Where Trent Reznor’s original was a troubled paean to drug addiction, Cash infuses the track with genuine heart to accompany the bitterness. Cash treats the song with such honesty that adds to what was an already powerful mantra in Reznor’s hands. Frankly it’s the only song of the last decade to move me into an awed silence every single time I hear it.
On the B-Side, you’ll find a trembling re-working of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ and a breathtaking version of Glen Campbell’s classic ‘Wichita Lineman’. These tracks are good, but totally overawed by the magnificence of ‘Hurt’. Also included on the disc is the heartbreaking video of ‘Hurt’. It was exceptionally touching before his death, now it is truly among the saddest things I have ever seen.
To say that this disc is a fitting tribute to one of the all-time greats is praise indeed. Sometimes five-stars just don’t do a song justice. Rest In Peace Johnny.