Music Friday: A Warm Place

Last Saturday was the 20th anniversary of The Downward Spiral. I’ve already said lots of things about Nine Inch Nails on this blog, so it seems appropriate to acknowledge this in some way. But I must admit that I’ve had a hard time singling out one song from the album to share this week. The obvious lazy choice would be Closer, but even if you haven’t heard that song in ten years you’re probably humming it to yourself right now. That song became so famous that many people think it is what Nine Inch Nails is about, but it’s probably not even the most representative song on this album. There’s certainly a lot of intensity to be found on The Downward Spiral from anti-government to anti-religion to anti-violence, so maybe it’s just the kind of intensity that showed up in Closer that the seething masses most strongly identify with. It would be way too easy to dismiss the entire thing as filth the way Joe Lieberman and friends did when it was politically convenient to do so. But then why twenty years later can Trent Reznor’s name be listed in the company of John Williams and Hans Zimmer?
I wasn’t at a point in my life when I first heard this album that it was something I strongly identified with the way I did with Pearl Jam, for example. But if I had been in that place and someone asked me which song best describes you, I think this is the one I would pick. I think it’s the song a lot of people who have had a much stronger connection with Nine Inch Nails than I ever had would pick. I know some of those people. It’s the only song that I remember there being applause for the one time that I saw them in concert. All the other songs are about what is wrong with the rest of the world; this song is about finding a little bit of shelter from all of what those other songs are about. And this song might have a lot to do with why we can talk about Nine Inch Nails in the present tense twenty years later.

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One Response to “Music Friday: A Warm Place”

  1. I just saw NIN on Monday night. (In Brisbane, Australia, with Queens of the Stone Age and Brody Dalle.)

    They opened with this song, but some idiot forgot to turn the house lights down first. They didn’t do Closer, but did March of the Pigs and Piggy, and closed with Hurt. They were awesome. At times just blew us away.

    Wild rock and roll live, but his records these days seem to be layered in a way that is like a classical symphony. Its easy to imagine him using an orchestra like a mixing desk if he was alive 250 years ago.

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