Johnny Cash: Hurt | fingerstyle guitar

Posted on 26. Jul, 2014 by in Best of Intellimusica, Method, Pop Music, Premium Tabs

Johnny Cash/NIN

Recently, an artist friend of mine asked me how I manage my relationship with my wife and my work at the same time. It was a great question, and my friend didn’t mind if I turned the answer into a blog post:

This is a significant problem with artists, photographers, musicians, and creators alike. In all honesty, I failed terribly to prioritize my relationship in my 20’s. I was teaching guitar 7 days per week, rehearsing twice per week with my rock band, and playing out 3-4 times per month. My wife became depressed because her husband was gone the majority of the time.

My thought process, was that I was building something for our future. I’d put in my time early, and reap some ambiguous pay-off down the road where her and I could be together all the time.

The short answer is: your time is now. Your life is now. There is no pot of gold at the end of a work-intensive rainbow. I teach lawyers, and surgeons who feel like they completely missed out on the first 18 years of their children’s life due to work commitments. As it turns out, it wasn’t worth it.

Since a creator’s vocation is often their avocation, the lines between leisure and work become very blurry. Here are some things to consider:

Is your significant other worth prioritizing over your work?

Maybe they’re not worth it. Many people are in relationships to be in relationships. If your not intending to spend the rest of your life with this person — why put yourself through the hassle of taking time away from your work projects?

The right person will some along, and you’ll want to make time for them.

Date a passionate, creative person like yourself.

Creative people intuitively understand creative people. If you’re a musician and your girlfriend is a photographer — chances are that she’ll need to be on her own for finite periods of time, like you. I’ve seen this work amazingly well with friends of mine. They’re passion about one another, as well as their individual work.

Adhere to a consistent work schedule and sneak in extra when you can.

I work on Intellimusica in the mornings while I’m off and my wife is at work. I only work in the evenings with her permission. Sometimes she’ll be engrossed in Hemlock Grove or some other Netflix series, and almost prefer that I not bother her.

If my wife is off on a weekday, I’ll get up extra early and work while she sleeps in.

Set a precedent early in your relationship.

You can’t spend every waking moment with someone — then suddenly vanish due to work projects. However, things might work if you say (early on) that:  Monday and Wednesday are my creative work nights. Let’s make time for each other on Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday.

Limits on your creative time is better for your work and productivity.

A relationship is probably the best thing for your work and career. Artists tend to get way too finicky about their work – myself included. By limiting your time, you force yourself to prioritize and complete your work faster — in a more efficient manor.

Parkinson’s law is the adage that: work expands, so as to fill the time available for its completion. In other words, your work isn’t necessarily better having spent more time on it. Have you ever wondered how I crank out so many songs each month? I use self-imposed time limits for the completion and recording of my arrangements and blog posts.


How to Play Hurt by Nine Inch Nails (as performed by Johnny Cash)

My instrumental arrangement for Hurt is a blend of both the Nine Inch Nails original, and the Johnny Cash remake. I honestly believe this song (especially the Johnny Cash version) is among everybody’s all time favorites.

Hurt for classical guitar, is not as easy as it looks. The first chord shape in the intro will be tricky for beginner and intermediate guitar players. However the verse is a very simple chord progression. 

The tab is very clear and easy to read. The order of play is: Intro, Verse, Chorus — Intro, Verse, Chorus. Hurt is played in

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5 Responses to “Johnny Cash: Hurt | fingerstyle guitar”

  1. Matt

    26. Jul, 2014

    Wow, absolutely phenomenal Evan! I learned the Johnny Cash version of this song a few years back but, your transcription is a whole lot better. Keep up the good work!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Tom

    29. Jul, 2014

    In the middle of learning this one, I knew the Cash version already but this rendition seems a whole lot fuller as a solo guitar piece. Did you manage to watch The Last of Us: One Night Live? Gustavo was great, really into the performance as were the actors. Anyway thanks for this one.

    Reply to this comment
    • Evan Handyside

      30. Jul, 2014

      Hi Tom, I appreciate your comment. I was working and could watch The Last of Us live. My plan is to catch it on YouTube at a later date. I’m very interested to see how he pulled off the music live. – Evan

      Reply to this comment
  3. Daniel

    30. Jul, 2014

    Thank you for this post Evan. I always admire how openly you dare to talk about such intimate things. I wonder if this blog kind of helps you realizing and dealing with certain situations that you put into words on here.

    That’s what it’s like for me at least, whenever I’m in situations where I don’t seem to know what to think or do. Writing things down always gives a certain structure to your thoughts. Do you think this blog is helping you too in that way? It does help me and I’m very thankful that I found your blog a few years back because it has added to much more than just my guitar playing – that’s something you should be proud of.

    Now to your transcription: It’s fantastic. I admit I was a bit sceptical at first, when I got the email notification saying you uploaded your version of “Hurt” – probably one of the most important and powerful covers in music history.

    By transcribing any piece of music you immediately take the risk of being compared to the original, sometimes just subconsciously but it does happen for everyone who knows that piece. The danger with this piece isn’t even really to be worse than the original or to try better because there simply isn’t any way – at least not that I could imagine – doing it better than Johnny Cash did.

    That’s why I tried not to compare but just take this in as you presented it and see it as your own interpretation of something that I love as well. Listening to it for a few seconds already brought tears to my eyes and for me that was the point of losing any right to judge over the quality of it. It works amazingly well for an acoustic version!

    Great job Evan!

    Oh by the way I really enjoyed your own compositions you uploaded lately. It’s so interesting to see an artist develop and grow. In my opinion this growth in your case means simplification and getting to the core of it. Keep up the good work and keep challenging your talent, you’re getting better and better!


    Reply to this comment
    • Evan Handyside

      30. Jul, 2014

      Thanks for your thoughtfulness again Daniel.

      Very perceptive — I does help me personally to organize thoughts into words. The trick is to do it in a way where I don’t sound self-indulgent, and the reader can take away something useful/actionable. In a way, I’m writing a letter to my younger self.

      Intellimusica acts as a personal constitution. As I embark on my blog posts and arrangements, I recall things I wrote where I say to myself: remember to simplify, be minimalist, be fearless, ect.

      I agree with your Hurt analysis — as it’s a classic purely because Johnny Cash lending his weathered voice and soul to the song at the end of his life. NIN’s was powerful but nowhere near what Cash lent to it.

      I keep my song selection totally organic (to use and overused word). Hurt came up in a lesson, and I knew right away, that’s next for Intellimusica. My initial though was that, I wanted my readership to freak out when they saw this in their email. No one knows what I’m i’m about to do, because even I don’t know. I thought Hurt would be a pleasant surprise.

      When it was all said and done, I dissected my performance to death because it’s such a huge song. I think my chorus’s sound too biting. My Gk Studio has a really treble-ish sound and I should have picked a warmer guitar.

      However, people seem to like this one and I’m happy about that.

      Yes I’m trying to get some new material out there. I’m saving the audio files for a new EP in October!

      Thank you again,

      Reply to this comment

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