Director Of Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' Music Video Reveals Behind The Scenes Story
"I hurt myself today." Four words most of us know and love. Not, as it might look to a layman, the grouch of a bruise-prone OAP who likes to play piano, but the swansong of legendary country singer Johnny Cash before his death in 2003.
Prior to Cash's re imagining, "Hurt" was a moderately successful song by Nine Inch Nails off their 1994 album The Downward Spiral. If you compare the songs now, there isn't that much difference, the only major distinction being Cash's sonorous vocals.
Trent Razor of NIN was originally "flattered" by the idea of Cash covering his song but worried it may be "gimmicky". However, recording still prevailed thanks to producer Rick Rubin.
Director Mark Romanek then pestered Rubin to make a video for the single.
"I begged Rick Rubin to let me shoot something to that track," Romanek recalled, who even offered to shoot the thing free of charge.
Universal OK'd the music video and Romanek was good to go. There was one problem, though. forced to think on his feet given Cash's failing health.
Flying to Nashville, he began scouting locations for "Hurt", eventually deciding on the House of Cash, which in a state of disrepair toward the end of the singer's life.
"It had been closed for a long time," Romanek said. "The place was in such a state of dereliction. That's when I got the idea that maybe we could be extremely candid about the state of Johnny's health - as candid as Johnny has always been in his songs."
The result was an ode to Cash's life, his loves and losses. His wife June would die three months after filming. Cash, seven.
"I cried the first time I saw it," Rick Rubin said. "If you were move to that kind of emotion in the course of a two-hour movie, it would be a great accomplishment. To do it in a four-mnute music video is shocking."
Cash's house tragically burned down in 2007 adding even a greater profundity to the video.