Johnny Cash's grandson sings haunting cover of 'Hurt' as a poignant tribute to his late grandfather

1 March 2024, 17:03

Johnny Cash's grandson, Thomas Gabriel, has recorded a haunting cover of his grandfather's emotional song 'Hurt'.
Johnny Cash's grandson, Thomas Gabriel, has recorded a haunting cover of his grandfather's emotional song 'Hurt'. Picture: Thomas Gabriel Official YouTube/Lost Highway

By Thomas Edward

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His voice is eerily similar to his grandfather's.

Johnny Cash's grandson Thomas Gabriel has a voice that's so remarkably like his grandfather, you have to double-take to make sure it's not the 'Man In Black' himself.

Although he's not widely known outside the world of country music, Gabriel is making a name for himself with some remarkable cover versions.

The cover versions in question are those of his late grandfather, who passed away in 2003.

It's been over twenty years since his death. Yet, through his covers, Gabriel is bringing the voice and spirit of Johnny Cash back to life. It's less a cover version and more a full-blown reincarnation.

Towards the end of Cash's career, he was releasing and performing some of the most emotional and affecting music that he'd ever produced.

One of the songs in question, was 'Hurt', a song Cash released back in 2002 a matter of months before he left us.

In only a short time, it was quickly accepted as one of Johnny Cash's greatest moments, and now Thomas Gabriel has paid tribute to his grandfather with a haunting rendition.

Hurt | Thomas Gabriel (Full Acoustic Version)

His recording of 'Hurt' is one of a series of Johnny Cash covers his Gabriel has performed, following on from a faultless cover of 'Folsom Prison Blues'.

The performance unfolds in the Cash Cabin, with John Carter Cash - the only son of Johnny Cash and June Carter - accompanying Thomas on guitar.

"How's this going to feel Thomas?" a voice asked Gabriel just before the performances got under way, to which he responded fittingly: "This is going to hurt."

Evidently hearing the song evokes memories of his late grandfather, let alone stepping into his shoes and singing the song himself.

His voice has the same depth and tone as Cash's, but also manages to rattle with the same world-weary emotion that Johnny's voice developed towards the end of his days.

Safe to say he does the song absolute justice, in what unfolds as a touching tribute to Gabriel's beloved grandfather.

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in 2002.
Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in 2002. Picture: Getty

Johnny Cash covered 'Hurt' in 2002, which originally belonged to the industrial metal band Nine Inch Nails, and had an entirely more menacing, hopeless delivery.

When the song's writer Trent Reznor was asked if Cash could cover the song, he said it felt "gimmicky" at first.

After seeing the song's music video - which compiles archive footage of Cash from the past alongside his frail older state in the present - was blown away.

Reznor even went so far to say that the song "wasn't mine anymore" in an interview with the Alternative Press.

"I pop the video in, and... wow. Tears welling, silence, goosebumps... Wow. I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine any more. Then it all made sense to me."

Johnny Cash - Hurt

"It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone."

"Some-f**king-how that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning - different, but every bit as pure," Reznor continued.

"Things felt even stranger when he passed away. The song's purpose shifted again. It's incredibly flattering as a writer to have your song chosen by someone who's a great writer and a great artist."

As well as 'Hurt' widely being ranked as one of his greatest ever moments, the music video won Johnny Cash a Grammy Award and Country Music Association Award.

However, his award wins were sadly posthumous. On 12th September 2003, just months after the video was shot, Johnny Cash died.

His wife and life-long love June Carter also appeared in the music video beside him, died just two months after 'Hurt' was released.