Johnny Cash was in the twilight of both his career and his life when producer Rick Rubin became determined to revitalize Cash’s career one more time. He began by introducing Cash to more modern songs from artists like Soundgarden and Tom Waits.
Cash liked what he heard, but when Rubin played him “Hurt” by Nine In Nails, he said “I can’t do that. That’s not my style.”
Rubin insisted. “Just read the lyrics. If they resonate with you, we’ll figure it out.” Turns out that Cash really connected with the song and Rubin recorded a very sparse acoustic version that offered lots of space for Cash’s vocals. And when the video was released, this recording cemented Cash as a brand-new alt-rock hero.