John R. "Johnny" Cash (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author, who was widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. Although primarily remembered as a country music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of multiple inductions in the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
Cash was known for his deep, calm bass-baritone voice, the distinctive sound of his Tennessee Three backing band, a rebelliousness coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor, free prison concerts, and a trademark look, which earned him the nickname "The Man in Black". He traditionally began his concerts with the simple "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash", followed by his signature "Folsom Prison Blues".
In 2002, Johnny Cash covered the song for his album, American IV: The Man Comes Around. The line "crown of shit" was changed to "crown of thorns", not only removing profanity from the lyrics, but also more directly referencing Christ and Cash's devout Christianity. Its accompanying video, featuring images from Cash's life and directed by Mark Romanek, was named the best video of the year by the Grammy Awards and CMA Awards, and the best video of all time by NME in July 2011. The cover was released on a single with the B-side 'Personal Jesus', a cover of the Depeche Mode single.
When Trent Reznor (the vocals for the Nine Inch Nails Version) was asked if Cash could cover his song, Reznor said he was "flattered" but worried that "the idea sounded a bit gimmicky." He became a fan of Cash's version, however, once he saw the music video.
I pop the video in, and wow... Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps... Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore... It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure.
The music video was directed by former NIN collaborator Mark Romane who sought to capture the essence of Cash, both in his youth and in his older years. In a montage of shots of Cash's early years, twisted imagery of fruit and flowers in various states of decay, seem to capture both his legendary past and the stark and seemingly cruel reality of the present. According to literature professor Leigh H. Edwards, the music video portrays "Cash's own paradoxical themes".
Romanek had this to say about his decision to focus on the House of Cash museum in Nashville.
It had been closed for a long time; the place was in such a state of dereliction. That's when I got the idea that maybe we could be extremely candid about the state of Johnny's health, as candid as Johnny has always been in his songs.71 years of age at the time of filming (in February 2003), Cash had serious health problems and his frailty is clearly evident in the video. He died seven months later (September 12); his wife, June Carter Cash, who participated in the video (she is shown gazing at her husband in several sequences), died three months after filming (May 15), closely preceding him in death.
In July 2011, the music video was named one of "The 30 All-TIME Best Music Videos" by Time. It was ranked the greatest music video of all time by NME.
The house where Cash's music video for 'Hurt' was shot, which was Cash's home for nearly 30 years, was destroyed in a fire on April 10, 2007
.Background and the back story on the Music Video