Hurt (Johnny Cash)

As I was pondering what to post this morning, Johnny Cash's cover of Trent Reznor's song "Hurt" opened my Spotify playlist. I've been thinking about Cash since reading Richard Beck's excellent new book Trains, Jesus, and Murder: The Gospel According to Johnny Cash (Fortress, 2019). The song represents Cash at the end of his career. While "the Man in Black" often took on the guise of Rebel, there was, as Richard Beck reveals, another side, one that is vulnerable and regretful. The song was written as a reflection on the battle with addiction, something that Johnny struggled with throughout his life.

Richard notes that there is here an echo of Ecclesiastes declaration "Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity." But there is more here than that in the song and in the video above. Richard writes:

Most listeners and viewers are struck by a profound sense of sadness and loss. Lyrically, the song describes how we eventually, if we live long enough, come to lose everyone we've ever loved. Loss after loss, we are slowly left alone. The video includes multiple shots of June watching Johnny playing his guitar. Tears shimmer in her eyes. These tears are juxtaposed with images of Johnny and June when they were younger, happy, smiling, and walking arm in arm. Combined with the lyrics of loss, the images just rip your heart out. (Trains, Jesus, and Murder, p. 165).    
It's a sad, but poignant song and video. I'm not in a melancholy mood this morning, but I find the song insightful. Perhaps you will as well. As for the book, I highly recommend it (my review will appear soon at the Englewood Review of Books). 


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