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The 25 Best Rick Rubin Songs

5. Johnny Cash “Hurt” (2003)



Album: American IV: The Man Comes Around
Label: American Recordings, Universal Music Group
Producer: Rick Rubin

After Rick Rubin's groundbreaking first album with Johnny Cash, there remained more musical territory and creative concepts to explore. Rubin hit upon the idea of covers: If Cash could be appreciated by a new generation of fans—whose own music embodied many of the dark and brooding qualities of Cash's original work—then it followed that Cash might do well to interpret some of that new generation's work in his own fashion.

 

That Rubin forged such a fruitful relationship with an American legend like Cash—longer than his partnerships with the Beasties or Run-DMC or LL Cool J—showed just how far Rick had come, and how important he had become as a producer.

 

The first such remake was Cash's cover of Soundgarden's “Rusty Cage” on his second album, Unchained, which also included a cover of Beck's “Rowboat.”

But the epitome of this cover concept came on American IV: The Man Comes Around, Cash's fourth album with Rick — in a remake of Nine Inch Nails's song “Hurt,” written by Trent Reznor.

“Hurt” would become the most well-known product of Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash's decade-long partnership, in part because the song became Cash's de facto elegy when he died shortly after its release. That Rubin forged such a fruitful relationship with an American legend like Cash—longer than his partnerships with the Beasties or Run-DMC or LL Cool J—showed just how far Rick had come, and how important he had become as a producer.

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