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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

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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