Cash, Johnny – Hurt / Personal Jesus

A lot has been written already about Johnny Cash, the ‘Man in Black’ who died in september this year, aged 71. His melancholic, sometimes dark country music, with grim, realistic texts about the daily sorrow of the working man, gave him much success in the late 60’s and 70’s. With legendary concerts in the St. Quentin prison and immortal hits like ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘A boy named Sue’, ‘I walk the line’ and ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. In the last decade he seemed to be in his second youth, at least musicwise. His health was a constant struggle in the last years. Together with successful producer Rick Rubin (Slayer, Beasty Boys, Chili Peppers, The Cult & much more) Cash managed to appeal to a younger generation. With four acclaimed albums: “American Recordings,” “Unchained,” “American III: Solitary Man” and “American IV: The Man Comes Around”.

The success can partly be explained by the fact that he also recorded the songs of this younger generation. Like on this cd-single, where he performs ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails and ‘Personal Jesus’, a hit from Depeche Mode. The versions of Johnny Cash sound perfectly credible, with his recognizable charcoal voice and a sober guitar and piano accompaniment. Especially ‘Hurt’, from the “American IV” album, sounds very intense and emotional. It is years ago that I listend to NIN’s “The Downward Spiral”, but I remember that I already found ‘Hurt’ a particularly strong track at the time. The desperate lyrics are perfectly suited for Cash: ‘everyone I know / goes away in the end / you could have it all / my empire of dirt’. Cash singing ‘Hurt’ really gives me the shivers.

‘Personally Jesus’ is a solid bluesy song, with piano and guitar. The religious theme and the dark undertone suit Cash fine. As a bonus the cd-single also contains the lovely melancholic, somewhat sentimental song ‘Wichita Lineman’, with more classical elements. This song is also available on the vinyl version of “American IV: The Man Comes Around”.
Finally we are treated to the acclaimed wonderful videoclip by director Mark Romanek for ‘Hurt’, which was nominated for several MTV video awards.
‘The Man in Black’ is dead, but his work lives on..

artist: Cash, Johnny
label: Lost Highway Records
details: 3 tracks + video