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Song Stories

“Hurt”

Johnny Cash | 2002

Musicologists will be quick to interject that "Hurt" was originally a hit for Nine Inch Nails back in 1994, but when Johnny Cash took a stab at it in 2002 at the hands of producer Rick Rubin, he recorded what many consider to be the definitive version. Cash took Trent Reznor’s industrial soundscape about a tortured soul and stripped it bare, save for an acoustic guitar. "That song isn’t mine anymore," admitted Reznor. Instead, the song, which can partially be interpreted as a lament about the ravages of drug addiction, belongs to Cash, who sacrifices himself as the prime example. He died less than a year later.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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