Reznor previously had a big brush with country music back in 2003, when Johnny Cash delivered a stark version of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” for American IV: The Man Comes Around with producer Rick Rubin. American IV went on to claim the CMA Award for Album of the Year in 2003, while “Hurt” picked up Single of the Year and Video of the Year for its Mark Romanek-directed clip — but Reznor’s composition didn’t wind up among the final nominees in the Song of the Year category.
That experience of having a personal song interpreted by a country icon was also strange for Reznor at first.
“You feel a little bit violated, you know?” he said. “And then you get over that, and you realize it has become something else, and the Johnny Cash thing is incredible. It’s very flattering.”
Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus aren’t listed among this evening’s performers at the CMA Awards, but it’s hard to imagine the ceremony passing without at least some mention of the song. Artists slated to take the stage include Dierks Bentley with Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton with Pink, and Lady Antebellum with Halsey. Co-hosted by Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, and Reba McEntire, the 53rd annual CMA Awards airs live tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC.