NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Recently discovered diaries from the late country music legend Johnny Cash show he was first hoping to record a rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ provocative single “Closer” instead of “Hurt,” sources confirmed.
“This is a truly stunning development,” said Johnny Cash Museum representative Tasha Elridge about the diaries, which have been authenticated and were donated anonymously by a relative of Cash. “While Johnny’s rendition of ‘Hurt’ stands as one of his greatest achievements in a career full of them, this chapter in his story has now been forever altered by the knowledge that he was first outlining a version of the song arguably best known for the ‘I wanna fuck you like an animal’ line. In fact, ‘Hurt’ to appeared to be his fourth choice after ‘Head Like a Hole’ and ‘March of the Pigs.’ Almost like he never even wanted to cover ‘Hurt’ in the first place.”
Further confirmation regarding the validity of the diary entries, dated between May and August 1997, was given by Nine Inch Nails founding member Trent Reznor.
“I thought it’d be best to keep this to myself. But now the cat’s out of the bag,” said Reznor. “Johnny reached out to me about how he’d been working out a version ‘Closer’ on a Martin DX. He even played a little for it over the phone when we were on the ‘Fragility’ tour. Even over the crackly landline static, you could tell it was something special. And he understood that just because it’s a song that references sex, that doesn’t make it a ‘sex song.’ I really wish we could’ve gotten a proper version. Instead, Maroon 5 covered it, which made me regret ever writing it.”
Though Cash’s cover of “Closer” remains unrealized and unrecorded, many have offered speculation about it and the impact it would presumably have.
“Based on available data we have regarding Johnny Cash covers of Nine Inch Nails songs we can safely assume that his take on ‘Closer’ would be fraught with the same end-of-life solemnity as ‘Hurt.’ Though perhaps not,” said associate Pitchfork editor Adam Balsewicz. “After all, he did that little known cover of Baha Men’s ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ that was even more rowdy than the original just before he passed. That man was a total enigma.”
At press time, the subsequent discovery of S&M clothing and paraphernalia by Cash’s estate indicated he was also planning to recreate the song’s video.