Today at work I was speaking with a co-worker who really enjoyed my post about hard rock love songs and in particular about my choice of Nine Inch Nails, The Only Time. It turns out that my dear friend Crystal has only recently discovered NIN and has never heard what, in my opinion of course, is the best album of them all. I'm one of those girls who has a tendency to enjoy a few songs off an album but rarely if ever enjoy an entire album cover to cover. This is one of those rare exceptions.
A little background: I first heard Pretty Hate Machine when I was seeing a guy who, shall we say, came from the wrong side of the tracks. I had already heard my first Metallica album and was starting to finally come out of the soft rock and oldies shell I had been in since a child. Then, there it was, the album which fit my rebellious mood so perfectly, it became my anthem. I should warn you in advance, I know that a lot of this album is about Trent's personal dealings with sex and drugs. During my research into the album though I discovered that he actually left a lot of this stuff up for debate, maybe that's what it speaks to so many.
I'll go through it track by track after the jump:
"Head like a Hole"
The thing I find so brilliant about this entire track, and really this entire album is how open to interpretation all of the songs are. You can take his lyrics and apply it to anything personal. Sex, Drugs, Parents, Government.. "I'd rather die, than give you control"
For me this song was the boyfriend who never appreciated me and my desperate need to hold onto him to keep my own self worth. "There's nothing left for me to hide, I lost my ignorance, purity and pride" Looking back I was a pretty moody teenager, but then again I'm still a pretty moody adult.
"Down in It"
Okay, this song is and will always be the song I use to test the bass on any new set of speakers. And I might mention the speakers on my computer kinda suck. Rob needs to fix that for me. "I used to have something inside, now just this hole it's open wide" mmmmmmm angst, seriously I still love this stuff.
One of the "ballads" of the album. The haunting sounds of this song lulled me to sleep on more than one occasion. I'm getting a little drowsy listening to it now actually. Time to move forward.
"Something I Can Never Have"
Now if I wasn't asleep by the end of "Sanctified" I was out like a light at the end of this one. Usually after having cried myself to sleep. I should mention that I had a boyfriend I was off again and on again with for years through high school, not the same guy who introduced me to NIN, but the one before and after him. This song encompassed everything in those off times. Did I mention I lived for angst? "Everywhere I look you're all I see.. Just a fading fucking reminder of who I used to be"
"Kinda I Want To"
"I know it's not the right thing, and I know it's not the good thing, but kinda I want to" The song for the indecisive. I'm sitting here listening to this and just floods of memories are coming back. Mkay, I digress.
Another good bass tester. (seriously Rob needs to hook me up with better speakers.) This is probably my favorite song off the album. "You give me the anger, you give me the nerve, carry out my sentence, well I get what I deserve" I think everyone has felt the raw emotions this song conveys for whatever personal reason.
"That's What I Get"
How many of us have had that moment where you think you've got it all down, then something just shatters your entire world? This is the perfect song to accompany the following feeling of the total let down. "Why's it come as a surprise to think that I was so naive? Maybe didn't mean that much, but it meant everything to me"
"The Only Time"
I love Trent's comment at the beginning of the live version of this song. "This song is about, fucking" and really, yeah, it is what it is. "My moral standing is lying down" Yes, yes it is. And for 4 minutes and 47 seconds, no one seems to mind.
Ah the moment of knowing that even though your boyfriend/girlfriend is walking all over you but you can't stop coming back. I know we've all been there.
So yah, after listening to this album again from cover to cover as my adult self I can't help but think I need to head over to confession. There's something just so raw and human in all of the songs here. The need to feel and be appreciated. The feelings of despair when you aren't. It's an album that once you've soaked it in it will always remain a part of you. I know it does me.