It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for another installment of your favorite column about music videos. My initial goal for this weekly was to highlight clips that were at least a decade old, but a few days ago, I was listening to some Johnny Cash and remembered his hauntingly brilliant 2002 cover of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt.” Being a huge fan of both Nine Inch Nails and The Man In Black, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to this work.

The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails is unquestionably one of the best albums of the 1990s. Recorded in the infamous Sharon Tate murder house, the concept disc is a near autobiographical look into Trent Reznor’s soul. It’s pain, it’s heartbreak, it’s loss, and it’s one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. Most of America seemed to go for the pop sensibilities and overt sexuality of “Closer”, but I was mesmerized by “Hurt”, a song every bit as depressing as George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and every bit as emotional as James Taylor’s “Fire And Rain.”

A little less than a decade after The Downward Spiral was released, I heard rumors that Johnny Cash was planning to cover “Hurt.” At first I was a little taken aback, but I still eagerly awaited its release. A few months later, I was sitting in my basement and saw the video for the first time. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried less than half way through the clip. I still have a near emotional breakdown every time I see it.

The video opens with a feeble and weak Cash playing his signature black guitar and crooning, “I hurt myself today to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain. The only thing that’s real.” As The Man In Black continues, pictures and clips of his entire career begin flashing across the screen. The contrast between the elderly Cash and the youngster is startling. If anything ever made me question the fleeting nature of time, it is this video. Flat out, it’s the greatest music video I have ever seen.

So without further ado, here is Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”...

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