Hours after it was posted on Hugh Jackman’s Facebook page, the Logan movie trailer has already attracted over 12 million views.
It’s a sneak peek to the last time we’ll see the Australian actor as Wolverine, and as expected, it’s made an emotional impact on viewers.
Making people even more sentimental was the background song that accompanied the trailer:
The song, boys and girls, is the Johnny Cash cover of a Nine Inch Nails original. “Hurt” was released in 1994 as the last track of the band’s critically acclaimed concept album The Downward Spiral.
It tells the story of a man’s descent into self-destruction, culminating in an attempted suicide. It “can be interpreted as a standalone song, a song about wrong life choice and their consequences,” David Murillo wrote on Quora last year.
But the song took a whole new meaning, when country music super star Johnny Cash covered it, in what would be his last album. Suddenly, it’s extra haunting, with an added feel of sad finality.
It first shocked everyone, Cash doing the improbable and covering Nine Inch Nails of all things. The two couldn’t have been more different, with Cash reinventing the country music scene in the 50s, and Nine Inch Nails lording it over the 90s industrial rock genre.
But as soon as the shock factor wore off — and as soon as you’ve finished watching the accompanying music video — you’d begin to feel your throat tightening, thickening with tears. We all have Rick Rubin — the same bearded fellow who gave us the Beastie Boys and Run DMC — to thank for this.
Rubin and Cash had been collaborating as early as 1994, with the producer sending Cash copies of alternative songs, suggestions of things he could record himself.
“Hurt” was among the first few songs that Rubin sent. But it wouldn’t be until the duo’s fifth collaboration, incidentally Cash’s 87th studio album, American IV: The Man Comes Around, that Cash would record it.
Rumor had it Reznor was resistant to the idea at first. But when he saw the video, he was more than converted: “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,” he once told Alternative Press.
“It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure.”
Now, if the Logan trailer brought you to tears, wait until you see the video for the Johnny Cash version of Hurt:
It’s an emotional look at a successful and productive life that is nevertheless full of disappointment and sadness. Scenes of the derelict and empty House of Cash museum also remind us that everything has an end. The video works even if you have no idea about Cash’s drug problems and marital infidelities (his second wife, June, appears in the video, mere months before her death).
Aside from the style and pace, Cash replaced the original lyrics “Crown of sh*t” with “Crown of thorns — quite appropriate for a man who became a devout Christian after surviving the turbulent times of earlier years.
No wonder Reznor loved Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt. It’s amazing that one song, interpreted by two gifted artists, can retain its power. Both as an anthem of the angst and self-doubt that permeated the mid-90s, and the haunting yet heartfelt goodbye of a musical legend.
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