Tracks for Easter – Hurt by Johnny Cash

18 Apr

I love Christmas – partly because there’s so much great Yuletide music to shuffle through. But you don’t get Mariah Carey or Chris Rea diving into the studio in March to lay down an Easter hit. Perhaps bunnies, daffodils or chocolate eggs are too fluffy to sing about (and snowmen or sleighbells aren’t?). More to the point, even Lady Gaga would find it hard to write a three-minute chart-topper about death by crucifixion.

So, over the next few days I’ll suggest some songs that, though not all solely about Easter, might get us in the mood. If it gets too heavy, just think about bunnies and Mariah Carey.

Track One: Hurt by Johnny Cash

There aren’t many 70-year-olds who could turn a song about self-despair by an industrial-rock group into one of the most heart-breaking ballads of the 21st century. Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nail’s Hurt turned out to be his epitaph. He died seven months after filming the harrowing video in 2002.

The film – which has had over 50 million views on YouTube – is devastating. It shows a frail, wrecked man sitting in the long-closed, crumbling House of Cash museum, watched with genuine concern by his wife June, who herself died a short while after the video was released. “What have I become? My sweetest friend? Everyone I know goes away in the end,” sings Cash with weary, lonely authority.

Footage of a younger, virile Cash is interspersed – emphasising the fragility of a life lived on the edge. As the video reaches its climax and Cash’s vocals are matched in urgency by a single-note piano hammer, movie shots of Christ are also interjected. Cash shakily spills a goblet of red wine over the untouched banquet on his table… the nails go in and the cross is raised.

The effect is harrowing and desparate. An American legend humiliated, broken and poured out. A 2,000 year-old echo of Good Friday.

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2 Responses to “Tracks for Easter – Hurt by Johnny Cash”

  1. Michael April 20, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Great post and the u2 one. I love this song and the video. Reminds me of the fragility of life which catches up with us all in the end. Hope for more on the theme

    • dadrock April 22, 2011 at 11:33 am #

      Thanks Mike. Just posted another of your faves – Martyn Joseph. Have a great weekend.

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