I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
I try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become
My sweetest friend?
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of shit
Upon my liar's chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
But I am still right here

What have I become
My sweetest friend?
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way


Lyrics submitted by CHAKA

Hurt (with Nine Inch Nails) song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentAnyone who has heard this by Johnny Cash but not NIN is cheating themself.
    wmcp20on September 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is about self harm or mental torture. Makes me sad when I read it.
    crystal-chicon May 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJohnny Cash's version was quite good. Was David Bowie actually in this song? I've only heard the Cash version
    TheAcidSoundon March 14, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, AcidSound, David Bowie sings in this song. The song itself is by Nine Inch Nails. It's about the lead singer/lyricist Trent Reznor's battles with drug addiction and self destruction.
    AKitty0543on April 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentooh kk thanks :D wasn't sure lol
    TheAcidSoundon August 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentagreed, the original version is fantastic, such a haunting and powerful end to the downward spiral album. johnny cash's version is fantastic, but that doesnt make the original any less powerful.
    zsaszon September 29, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentInteresting NIN song...he sang this with them on the Outside tour...it added a lot of pizzazz.
    davidbowiefan1on October 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPersonally, being bipolar, and running into depressive states. It mirrors the way I feel on a regular basis. self medication, helpless, hopeless and all....
    cxpoeton March 02, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI hurt myself today
    To see if I still feel
    I focus on the pain
    The only thing that's real

    (Not depression, though a symptom. See Borderline Personality Disorder and Self-Mutilation, used to escape inner experiences of "I feel dead, empty, numbing nothingness." Blood and pain are preferable to feeling dead.

    The needle tears a hole
    The old familiar sting
    I try to kill it all away
    But I remember everything

    (Heroin is a cure worse than the disease, and the disease is loss of meaning, isolation and mortality)

    What have I become
    My sweetest friend?
    Everyone I know
    Goes away in the end

    (More associations with the existential dilemma of death. But who is the "sweetest friend?" Either the last person who is sticking by him, or the Heroin itself. Also use of the needle as metaphorical is common, as in Leonard Cohen's song, "The Butcher," found on "Songs from a Room")

    And you could have it all
    My empire of dirt
    I will let you down
    I will make you hurt

    (He realizes that all forms of structure and meaning are relative and subject to change. What was once meaningful today may not be tomorrow, and anyway, death takes it all away. He states that if you stick with him you are going to be the one that hurts. But believing this is a defensive strategy employed to avoid intimacy, commitment, giving/receiving love)

    I wear this crown of shit
    Upon my liar's chair
    Full of broken thoughts
    I cannot repair

    (A reference to Jesus, though in this case the thorns are feces. He is saying you think I'm a saint, but I am not; my self-hatred informs me I am nothing. Broken thoughts indicate both the impermanent and contradictory, or paradoxical, nature of mind; they cannot be repaired, only ameliorated by acceptance)

    Beneath the stains of time
    The feelings disappear
    You are someone else
    But I am still right here
    (there is something deeper and more global than mere memory, where the hurt can disappear, and yet, in his hopelessness feels he will forever be stuck, while loved ones move on)




    If I could start again
    A million miles away
    I would keep myself
    I would find a way

    (If only I could have had another chance to make better choices, I would not lose myself to addiction, I would have found another way).

    *The themes of self-hatred, hopelessness, helplessness and depression are strikingly apparent, and yet there is something more underlying it all, an extremely opaque sense of hope in the form of regret and the courage to admit the past is changeless, but the present is mutable.
    solaris2013on September 30, 2013   Link
  • -1
    General CommentJohnny Cash did it better
    a.lost.floweron October 15, 2006   Link

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