1001 Songs Challenge,  1990s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #806: Hurt (1994)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


Nine Inch Nails – Hurt (1994)

Hurt (Nine Inch Nails song) – Wikipedia

” Hurt” is a song by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails from their second studio album, The Downward Spiral (1994), written by Trent Reznor. It was released on April 17, 1995 as a promotional single from the album. The song received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Song in 1996.


Lyrics (via Genius)
Learn more about this song (via Genius)


We’re staying in the US, dear reader, but leaving Aberdeen, Washington, to make our way to Cleveland, Ohio. Formed in 1988 Nine Inch Nails are an American rock band who have endured while many of their contemporaries have faded into history. We join them in 1994 with the release of their second album – The Downward Spiral – and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the closing track – Hurt

1001 Songs Challenge #806: The album deals with the downward spiral of the title of a man whose physical and mental struggles lead him down very dark and tragic paths. Hurt has proved divisive in terms of meaning, even between members of the band. One idea links to the album concept as the main character remains alive but offers summations of his life and his struggles, the many faces that have come and gone, the need to hurt himself simply to feel and reference to his “empire of dirt”, a metaphor presumably for the ills of his life. The alternative interpretation is that the song deals with recovering from drug addiction and trying to remain clean when the temptation to relapse is very great. 

I am most familiar with Hurt, as a lot of people will be, from Johnny Cash’s superb 2002 cover. Nine Inch Nails’ original version is darker and grittier than Cash’s cover with eerie effects and distortion leaving one feeling maladjusted. I am intrigued about trying the whole album after listening to this. Lead singer, Trent Reznor, was initially reticent about Cash covering the song but was blown away by the music legend’s rendition and the poignant accompanying music video. Both versions of Hurt are too different to warrant comparison but with their contrasting approaches are two terrific takes of the same song.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

The Doors – The End (1967)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)

U2 – One (1991)

Suede – Animal Nitrate (1993)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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