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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

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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