Words and music by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails)
As recorded by Johnny Cash on "American IV: The Man Comes Around" (2002)
I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel.
I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real.
The needle tears a hole, the old familiar sting.
Try to kill it all away, but I remember ev'rything.
CHORUS: What have I become, my sweetest friend?
Ev'ryone I know – goes away in the end.
And you could have it all, my empire of dirt.
I will let you down; I will make you hurt.
I wear this crown of thorns – upon my liar's chair,
Full of broken thoughts – I cannot repair.
Beneath the stains of time – the feelings disappear.
You are someone else; I am still right here. CHORUS
If I could start again, a million miles away,
I would keep myself; I would find a way.
I saw the video yesterday and it was very, VERY powerful. The power came from the fact that enough reality from Cash's life was woven in that it shocked me a little and make me really believe he was singing the truth. Do I think he's really this depressed? Nope, but the video made me believe it for a moment. Most people have those "empire of dirt" moments.
In a world where once-cutting edge popular musicians wind up doing parodies of themselves in Las Vegas or farther down the road at the Purgatory Bar & Grille, Cash is still becoming. He's not playing the role of Johhny Cash at someone else's garden party - he's the real Cash and it's HIS gig. I don't care much that he's not in as good physical shape as he once was, that his voice isn't that strong and his hands shake. The music doesn't get its magic from the physical, and the part of Johnny Cash where the music meets the heart and soul is stronger than ever.