Johnny Cash – Hurt Guitar Lesson – Acoustic

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In this video lesson we will take a look at Johnny Cash’s version of the beautiful and haunting “Hurt”.

Originally written by Trent Reznor and released on Nine Inch Nails’ 1994 album The Downward Spiral, Johnny Cash’s 2002 cover of the song has now become more well known than the original.

Johnny Cash simply stripped the entire original recording down to it’s dark and stark basics in order to more closely relate it to his own life condition at the time of recording.

Johnny Cash was nearing the end of his life and in extremely frail health. If you watch the video for his version of “Hurt”, you can see that is readily apparent. By the way, the video is incredible and was rated the greatest music video of all time by the NME. You should definitely check it out. 🙂

This stripped down version is acoustic based with mostly acoustic guitar and piano.

In this Hurt guitar lesson video I will show you how to play all of those acoustic guitar parts and in the pre-chorus and chorus I will combine the piano and guitar layers into one easy to play part.

The opening of the song acts as the verse throughout. It consists of some simple arpeggiated picking around three basic chords. From there we reach the pre-chorus where once again things remain pretty basic. The strumming pattern is very simple and the only difficulty you may have with my arrangement is that I use my thumb to play a note of the 6th string in both the pre-chorus and chorus. However, it isn’t required for you to do the same, simply leave the thumb off and it will sound fine. I like using the thumb there since it creates a much fuller sound for that chord.

So there isn’t much more to talk about from a technical standpoint in this Hurt guitar lesson video. It is a basic song that has a very dramatic and soul searching purpose and does so in an extremely moving fashion.

It is suitable for players beginner to advanced.

I hope my lesson does this incredible song justice! 🙂



  1. Great lesson, thanks

  2. Can you please do Johnny's version on Rusty Cage.

  3. I cannot play the Am7 chord because I cannot stretch my pinky. Who else has this problem and how to fix it

  4. Truly great lesson as always

  5. You are a beautiful man

  6. what guitar is that? and what strings are you using?

  7. This song isn’t by Johnny cash

  8. This song became Johnny Cash's once he recorded it, no matter who the composer really was. This song takes me back.

    And no, I didn't need a Hollywood movie to bring me here.

  9. This Is the Most Accurate 'lesson' out here on this song ..

  10. Do coming home A7X

  11. I've been learning how to play a guitar for a year and I found this dude a while back I have learned to play quite a few songs and the learn my cords at the same time awesome job thank you

  12. Bring some more Johnny Cash to the Channel man,your lessons are great and I'd rather learn songs from you than anyone else on YouTube

  13. every time Carl says, "all together", I want to say, "it's an entirely different kind of flying"

  14. Excellent Lesson as always! You are awesome!

  15. Thank you for your precision lessons. You Are one of few people on youtube who take care And deducation to achieve quality lessons. Video quality, sound quality, teaching quality, but most of all is your quality of paying respect to artist by showing us as much as possible correct version of song .

  16. What does he exactly mean when he talks about chorus and pre-chorus? It's not easy to distinguish two different parts in the song

  17. that made my night

  18. Carl, what guitar arr you playing? Sounds amazing!!

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