I’m not really feeling the politics this morning. A friend of mine was talking about a conversation she had with her husband about Johnny Cash. I’d rather talk about Johnny; but only in a superficial way, because I’m not very knowledgeable about music. I didn’t know I liked Cash until I saw the video for Hurt. Cracked – where I seem to get about 90% of my information these days – ranked it as the number one cover song that stole the show from the original.
Trent Reznor had written the song, but Johnny owned it.
Ultimately, “Hurt” was about the fragile psychological state of Trent Reznor — and wow, it probably did not help matters at all when Johnny Cash roared up on a Harley, stole that manifesto of emotional agony right out of his shaking, bleeding hands, then threw a whiskey bottle at the wall and fell asleep on top of his girlfriend. Yes, you still gave birth to that song, Trent, and we all know it wouldn’t exist without you, but it very clearly loves Johnny so, so much more now. Cash’s cover was a testament to a lifetime of hard living and regret, from the lips of a man who’s lost nearly everything he’s ever loved and is now facing down death himself. No matter how real you think shit got in your 20s, your goth/industrial problems are just never going to compare to the lifelong issues of Liquor: The Cowboy. Cash had about five decades of pain on Reznor when he first performed “Hurt”; you’re just not fighting in same weight class.
From there, thanks to Pandora, I came to learn that I loved a lot of Cash’s stuff; especially, it seems, songs out of the American series toward the end of his life. Maybe I’m just a sucker for end-of-days music by hard living musicians – I very much enjoyed Warren Zevon’s “The Wind” as well.
These musicians are a bit of a deviation from my normal fare. I’d made a playlist for a poker night once, and my buddy observed, “all your songs are catchy but angry, Doug.” Which seems to be a trend in the music I like. (I didn’t come to punk music until my 20s, but that’s what I should have been listening to in high school and college.)
Like I said, my tastes in music are fairly unrefined and certainly unstudied. I mainly wander into music I like. I had friends who very methodically built collections and studied the racks at music stores. I was never that serious about developing my catalog. I mostly have just kept my ear open for stuff I like.