[/spoiler]It might have been a little trite and overwrought in places, but it was an accurate and unflinching document of serious, deep psychological pain ... that skinny white boys could fuck to. No matter what I'm about to say, Trent Reznor, you need to know that we all really, really appreciated that, man.
Ultimately, "Hurt" was about the fragile psychological state of Trent Reznor -- and wow, it probably did not help matters at all when Johnny Cash roared up on a Harley, stole that manifesto of emotional agony right out of his shaking, bleeding hands, then threw a whiskey bottle at the wall and fell asleep on top of his girlfriend. Yes, you still gave birth to that song, Trent, and we all know it wouldn't exist without you, but it very clearly loves Johnny so, so much more now. Cash's cover was a testament to a lifetime of hard living and regret, from the lips of a man who's lost nearly everything he's ever loved and is now facing down death himself. No matter how real you think shit got in your 20s, your goth/industrial problems are just never going to compare to the lifelong issues of Liquor: The Cowboy. Cash had about five decades of pain on Reznor when he first performed "Hurt"; you're just not fighting in same weight class.
It's tragic, really: You raised that music up as best you could, Trent, and sure you had your problems, but you tried your best and you really loved it. Then mom's cool new boyfriend came along with his speedboat and an autographed picture of that time he met Dolph Lundgren at the driving range and shit, man, you never stood a chance.
If you find that your neurotically chewed, black-painted fingernails are just dancing across the keyboard with rage right now, you should know this is the one entry that cannot be contested. In the words of Mr. Reznor himself:
"I pop the video in, and wow ... Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps ... Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore."
Game. Set. Cash.
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