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Archive for the ‘Trent Reznor’ Category

Trent Reznor, a fellow Taurus-musician

One of my many running mixes (particularly the ones I use when running on the oh-so-boring treadmill) is my infamous Nine Inch Nails mix.  Aggressive, angsty, passionate, driving…that’s exactly what one needs when running.  Anyway, since my mind has been completely immersed in and with the concepts of identity, empowerment, resistance, & counter-hegemony, I started realizing that the very music I was getting so into in this state of physical exertion and mental alertness contained lyrics which reflected themes of those very things: identity, empowerment, resistance & counter-hegemony.  No surprise there, I suppose, and to my delight, honing in on the specifics of the lyrics only drove me farther in my mileage.  😉  Amazing!  It’s a little weird taking this sort of academic point of view with music that is to me so amazingly visceral, but this is just too right-on from a cerebral standpoint.  I’ll break it down:

1. (I know this is totally predictable, but anyway…) “Head Like a Hole” from 1989’s “Pretty Hate Machine,” representing resistance and counter-hegemony:

…No you can’t take that away from me
No you can’t take it
No you can’t take it
No you can’t take that away from me
Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
I’d rather die than give you control.

Now with the same song, Trent reverses roles, moving into the position of domination (representing empowerment, but in a possibly destructive way???)

Bow down before the one you serve.
You’re going to get what you deserve.

1. “Only” (from “With Teeth,” 2005)

Serious, serious commentary on identity (and the fluctuating, hard-to-define aspects of identity, the potential to “lose oneself”), resistance, & counter-hegemony, defining oneself based not on outside influence.  I suppose this also represent a sort of Borderline Personality Disorder kind of thing, where people’s sense of self is totally undefined…but honestly, I think we all have the potential to feel this way, and those types of disorders are very hard to diagnose.  I digress…I think this song is more about the disconnect we can begin to feel when we’re being defined by outside sources, by the establishment, by hegemonic ways of thinking that are ultimately destructive (think: capitalism, excessive focus on “success,” climbing the social ladder, monetary success, body issues, esp. with women, you name it).  As angry as this song is, I think it really points towards breaking free.  I think all of these do…

I’m becoming less defined as days go by
Fading away
And well you might say
I’m losing focus
Kinda drifting into the abstract in terms of how I see myself

Sometimes I think I can see right through myself
Sometimes I can see right through myself

Less concerned about fitting into the world
Your world that is
Cause it doesn’t really matter anymore
(no it doesn’t really matter anymore)
No it doesn’t really matter anymore
None of this really matters anymore

There is no you
There is only me
There is no you
There is only me
There is no fucking you
There is only me
There is no fucking you
There is only me

3. “The Hand that Feeds” (Critical Theory, Counter-hegemony, resistance, identity); this one is really powerful.  Trent is (this is just what I think, of course) looking at whatever system of domination (government, school, the music industry, capitalism, a sadistic partner, whatever) and basically seeing himself as a potential (and sometimes willing) victim & wondering if he (or you) is “brave enough” to challenge the establishment & question it & become empowered, therefore “getting off your knees” and evolving.  I think he’s also commenting on the symbiotic relationship (the chair of my dissertation committee refers to this in one of her papers) between oppressors and those seeking empowerment.

You’re keeping in step
In the line
Got your chin held high and you feel just fine
Because you do
What you’re told
But inside your heart it is black and it’s hollow and it’s cold

Just how deep do you believe?
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?

What if this whole crusade’s
A charade
And behind it all there’s a price to be paid
For the blood
On which we dine
Justified in the name of the holy and the divine

Just how deep do you believe?
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?

So naive
I keep holding on to what I want to believe
I can see
But I keep holding on and on and on and on

This is probably all a little too aggressive for a lot of people (particularly the live performances), but I think if you take these themes into account, it really can hit home in a major way.

And last but not least – this is the best clip, in my opinion – a fabulous performance of “Head Like a Hole” from 1994, when Trent was closer to my age.  🙂  I love the angst, I really do.  There’s something strangely beautiful about this.  I mean, when do we get to be this angry?  (From one of my favorite songs: “Master Shaman, I have come, with my dolly from the shadow side, with a demon and an englishman…all the angels, and all the wizards, black and white, are lighting candles in our hands”).  For those of you who know what that quote is from, let’s just keep it between you & me, otherwise we have a serious cliche on our hands.  😉

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