It might be the saddest song of all time.
“Hurt,” by Nine Inch Nails, is the type of track that focuses your own pain into one several-minute song. It’s a tune that can bring your mood from high to low. Or even low to high, knowing that others out there might feel the same way as you at any given point.
It’s also a song that’s been covered by some real talent out there in the world. The one that likely jumps to most people’s minds is the rendition by the legendary American artist Johnny Cash, who performed the song for his American Recordings series prior to his death.
But what about other renditions? Other talents who took their skills to the tune? Let’s explore some of those below.
1. Johnny Cash
As mentioned, Cash covered the song and did such a good job with it that many likely believe it’s HIS song. In a way, it is. While he didn’t write it, it’s become one of his signature performances in the way that “I Will Always Love You,” which was written by country legend Dolly Parton has become a song by Whitney Houston. Let’s check out Cash’s stripped-down version below.
2. David Bowie
The British-born rocker performed a rendition of the song live on stage, which you can check out below. Here, Bowie, backed by several talented shredders, took on the tune like only he can: with a combination of mystery and flamboyance. In fact, if one didn’t know better, it might be assumed that this is a Bowie tune first and foremost. It’s that much of him. Enjoy it.
3. Mumford & Sons
Normally, when one thinks of the British-born band Mumford & Sons, ideas of four-on-the-floor kick drums, celebrations and joyous performances come to mind. They’re a quintessential modern folk band. One that likes happiness seemingly more than any other vibe. But the group took on the classic, downbeat tune, which you can check out below.
4. Christian Larsson
This rendition of the song is more in line with Cash’s interpretation. It’s stripped-down and driven by a strummed acoustic guitar. Larsson has a lovely voice, too. It’s brittle and rich. It blends with the similar played guitar and is bolstered by a subtle low-end piano. Check out the version by Larsson below and be wowed by the heft.
5. Mad Hatter’s Daughter
Speaking of a low-end, eerie piano, the artist Mad Hatter’s Daughter takes advantage of this vibe through and through. Her voice cracks and her mood hangs. Truly, this rendition of the song makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. There’s a drop of hope in the way she sings the song, yet it’s still unmatchably sad. And when the chorus drops? What power!
6. Shawn James
Shawn James is one of those artists like Miley Cyrus or Kelly Clarkson, any song he sings becomes his own. The artist has a big, booming voice. It’s one he can apply to any song and when he sings “Hurt” on his spare acoustic, it sounds like the track is a million years old, pulled from some old manuscript that itself was saved from some tomb years ago. Check out James’ version below.
Courtesy of The John R Cash Trust / Shorefire Media