Trent Reznor says that hearing Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” for the first time felt “like someone kissing your girlfriend.” Reznor went to day that the cover, which came to symbolize much of Cash’s later recording output, started with a single phone call:
"Rick Rubin called me to ask how I’d feel if Johnny Cash covered ‘Hurt’. I said I’d be very flattered but was given no indication it would actually be recorded. Two weeks went by. Then I got a CD in the post. I listened to it and it was very strange. It was this other person inhabiting my most personal song. It felt invasive."
Reznor finished by saying that even though there was some initial weirdness in hearing the Man in Black singing his lyrics, Cash recording his song means much more to him than any industry accolades he might receive, and also having Cash say that “Hurt” reminded him of a song that he would of written during his Sixties heyday was one of the most wonderful compliments that he had ever been paid as a musician. [NME]