In the midwest in the late 50’s and early 60’s Johnny Cash was one of the musical staples on the radio and in honky-tonk jukeboxes. Though he had not been in my regular listening rotation for years, that changed recently.
He put out a couple of great albums in recent years: American III: Solitary Man and American IV: The Man Comes Around. On these albums he covers all manner of popular songs from the past 20 years or so. Of course, some of the songs work better than others, depending on his reading and/or the listener’s taste. Some songs, such as Tom Petty’s Won’t Back Down, sound like they were written by and for the Man in Black; it’s hard to imagine it as Tom’s song any more!
One song, Hurt, written by Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor, has become a surprise hit. It’s a very powerful, moving, dark reading of the song, and is greatly enhanced by an accompanying video, which contrasts the 70 year old Cash with old video footage of him during all phases of his career. Highly Recommended!
According to this Rolling Stone article, Cash’s producer, Rick Rubin, sent a copy of the video to NIN’s Trent Reznor. “We were in the studio, getting ready to work — and I popped it in,” Reznor says. “By the end I was really on the verge of tears. I’m working with Zach de la Rocha, and I told him to take a look. At the end of it, there was just dead silence. There was, like, this moist clearing of our throats and then, ‘Uh, OK, let’s get some coffee.'”