Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Johnny Cash: Hurt (2002)


Johnny Cash performs “Hurt.” The song was written bTrent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, an American rock band, and is found on their album, The Downward Spiral (1994). It is the second track on the Cash CD, American IV: The Man Comes Around. Cash’s role as an elder statesman of American music give the song more meaning than if it were sung by someone much younger. Johnny Cash died on September 12, 2003; he was 71. His wife of 35 years, June Carter Cash, had died four months earlier.

The song voices regrets, of unfulfilled promises and of outright lies that define the human condition. As it does of pain, which for some is considered a necessary form of punishment for sins and a requirement for redemption. Does pain lead to redemption? Or is it unnecessary suffering? In medical terms, pain is a sign that something is not working right in our bodies. The Bible has a lot to say on this matter, which goes a long way to explain the song’s roots.

To see if I still feel/I focus on the pain

This is neither pleasant nor desirable, but guilt can act as a powerful force that whispers in our ears an admixture of truth and lies. Confusion becomes normative when we can’t tell the difference between the two, between truth and lies, and the result is more suffering and pain. Unnecessarily so, notably if it does not lead to any good. But for many pain is the only sensation they know and feel and understand. And so is hurt. This can all contribute to a downward spiral. This is not a pretty picture, but one of the ugly truths that art depicts.

Yet, change is always possible, if such is our genuine desire. Confessions of guilt can also offer healing, notably if there is a desire for repentance, or as Judaism says, teshuvah. Jews worldwide are now in the latter part of period known as the Ten Days of Repentance, beginning with Rosh HaShanah and ending with Yom Kippur—a time for reflection, introspection and positive change toward wholeness. This is never easy, but so it must begin. As it has often been said, all new beginnings are never easy.

I look at this song, despite its difficult subject, as a clarion call (a shofar’s blast, if you will) for change.

Hurt
by Trent Reznor

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

[Chorus:]
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

[Chorus:]
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

*********************
Yom Kippur (יוֹם כִּפּוּ, Judaism’s Day of Atonement) begins tonight after sunset, the tenth day of Tishrei in the Hebrew calendar. The end of Yom Kippur concludes the Ten Days of Repentance and what is also known as the High Holy Days. Its central themes are atonement and repentance, and individuals traditionally fast on this day and attend services at a synagogue—even those who consider themselves in no way religious. It is customary to say, G’mar Chatima Tova (גמר חתימה טובה‎) and May you have an easy and meaningful fast. Yom Kippur ends tomorrow at nightfall during the concluding Ne'ilah service with a tekiah gedolah, a long shofar blast

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