G.O.A.T.:HURT by Johnny Cash (2002)

THE GREATEST OF ALL TUNES (G.O.A.T.) is a salute to the greatest songs of all time. One song per artist, with suggested further listening and covers!

I don’t intend on putting a lot of covers on this list, but like Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” this is the rare version of a cover song that it much better than the original. And much different.

Johnny Cash’s “American” series make for a tremendous box set, and represent a basic “how to” on career revival. Conceived by Jeff Rubin, the albums contain almost exclusively covers and range from classic rock to gospel to traditional to 1990s industrial rock, i.e., Hurt. Unlike creator Trent Reznor’s version of the song, Cash brings pathos and desperation to a song with powerful lyrics that, in the original, are buried under Nine Inch Nails’ heavy, overpowering sound.

Further listening: Pretty much anything from the American albums is great, particularly the first one, but a few of my favorite cuts are: Thirteen (Danzig), The Beast in Me (Nick Lowe), and One (U2). Also, of course, Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” is one of the greatest of all tunes. But one per artist, and therefore it won’t be featured here.

Cover versions: This song IS a cover. But here’s a black metal version, just for kicks.

This is a mashup of “Hurt” with Pharell’s “Happy.” The idea is better than the execution, but I’m including it as a curiousity.


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