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
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 thorns
Upon my liar's chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair

Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
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 will keep myself
I would find a way

Lyrics submitted by i_am_spartacus, edited by Mellow_Harsher

Hurt Lyrics as written by Trent Reznor

Lyrics © CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Hurt (Nine Inch Nails cover) song meanings
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  • +18
    General CommentNIN wrote the song, but Cash gave it meaning.
    Drannonon July 02, 2004   Link
  • +14
    General CommentWhen Trent heard Johnny Cash's cover he said "It's his song now" That sums it up. Cash has a way of doing that. The world lost a beautiful legend when Cash died. I can't see this video without crying.
    pooky59on January 08, 2005   Link
  • +10
    General CommentWell, Johnny Cash did this song very well. If you look back at his life, this song kind of sums it up. Johnny made a change in life somewhere a long the road. But when he was doing music from state prison, he really did have an "empire of dirt". The man was old when he made his version of the song and he meant every lyrics of this song even though Trent came up with it first. . .
    shogunbrownon April 29, 2004   Link
  • +10
    General Commentone of the best covers of all time.
    lissywar67on October 06, 2011   Link
  • +7
    General Comment Trent Reznor wrote it so remember that he is and always will be an awesome artist. it was wrote about the impending doom of heroin addiction and what happens around ones life when caught up in such an affliction. Johnny Cash however gave it the sound of wisdom, and trust me i dont think anyone could of gave it more than Mr. Cash. but, never the less hats off to both artisB
    THRILLKILLon November 19, 2010   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationWhen you watch the film clip, acting as a montage for Cash's illustrious career, it puts the song and the meaning he wants to put forth into perspective.

    As he reflects on his magnificent career, he has aspects of his life and career that he knows weren't as rosy as they could have been and he knows that whatever bridges he crossed and whoever he upset in any way, he can't get that back.

    As a result, he regrets that experience.

    On the flip side, when he says 'What have I become?', I believe it can also signify a message to his fans and the general population, as means of asking them to reflect on his life and career as a whole and decide for them just who he has become as a person.

    The fact he made this song in such a short amount of time, was just incredible. Right before his death, too.
    RickyRicardo18on July 02, 2013   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI'll have to agree with everyone else on this one. Johnny Cash took this song and completely made it his own. I love it immensely.
    MamoruCon May 10, 2004   Link
  • +4
    General CommentWell, I don't know if anyone else can relate but the song has connections to someone who has BPD or Borderline Personality Disorder. He mentions in the song of self mutilation, "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 dated a girl who had this disorder, and this song described her to a T. She said the only thing that was real was the pain she felt when she hurt herself.
    "Everyone I know goes away in the end", this I know because the girl I know mentioned how everyone seemed to turn their back on her and leave her in her time of need.
    "I wear this crown of thorns, upon my liars chair, full of broken thoughts". People with this disorder also have problems with being honest and they have problems with paying attention. The girl I know said she had constant thoughts running through her mind of so many different things that it became confusing.
    "and you could have it all, my empire of dirt, I will let you down, I will make you hurt" I think the empire of dirt refers to the fact that people with this disorder can't really hold on to much of anything, from friends to money. These people also tend to hurt people emotionally and let them down when they're needed.

    But hey, I'm just an ex-psychology major, what do I know, right?
    vtwner236on October 19, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWhether you like Johnny Cash or NIN, this is still an example of what a cover should be. He finds something new and personal to say with it.
    The first time I heard this, I cried. Johnny Cash puts so much raw pain and honesty into this song, it is heartbreaking.
    annabananananaon September 22, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentNine Inch Nails wrote this song about drugs. simple as. Cash turned it into a kinda curtain call for himself. the video is properly heart wrenchign stuff.
    ya_nobheadon November 08, 2004   Link

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