The Joup Friday Album: Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral

TDS-Cover-768x768Ah, moving!

New places are weird. Every creak is a sign that the house will collapse on itself any second. Every strange voice passing on the sidewalk outside is surely a murder cult on a mission. My days are numbered. There’s still that signature stink of other people’s lives – mushroomed in our case by a faulty sewage extractor that the previous owners insisted “worked just fine.”

You get what you pay for, and we didn’t pay much.

Moving was an insane process. My partner is undergoing a remodel at his place of employment, and days off have been reduced. We (and I mean “he”) decided this was the perfect time for our first giant remodeling project. We didn’t even make our first mortgage payment before the kitchen was a pile of wood and plaster on the driveway. Free time is exclusively sitting home while my stepfather-in-law and his brother reassemble the entire thing, all to the soundtrack of hammering and country music.  It’s been a month. I’m hungry for food that doesn’t come with french fries. I’m angry, I’m lonely, and I’m tired. It turns out large projects that make you feel not-at-home combined with seasonal depression and a lot of junk food (due to the lack of a kitchen) isn’t the healthiest thing.

I can’t think of a more cathartic soundtrack to living in a clanging, dusty, rotten shell that may or may not collapse or be invaded by a murder cult than Nine Inch Nails’ second studio album, The Downward Spiral

From the initial clangs of “Mr. Self Destruct” all the way to final, grinding reverberation of “Hurt,” The Downward Spiral is frightening, angry, and slightly comforting all at the same time. Through all of the stress, it still feels like home. The basic white lady in me will always love tracks like “Closer” and “Hurt,” although the latter most definitely belongs to Johnny Cash these days. The older I get, the more I can appreciate it. The entire album just vibrates with nervous energy encapsulated in a nice destructive shell.

Spiral was recorded at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, California. Dubbed “Le Pig,” this is the site of the infamous Manson Family murders of Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, and two other men. Growing up in a household ran by a detective with a keen interest in major crimes, this was always fascinating to me. Trent Reznor later said in a 1997 Rolling Stone interview regarding his last days in the house:

“While I was working on [The] Downward Spiral, I was living in the house where Sharon Tate was killed. Then one day I met her sister [Pattie Tate]. It was a random thing, just a brief encounter. And she said: ‘Are you exploiting my sister’s death by living in her house?’ For the first time, the whole thing kind of slapped me in the face. I said, ‘No, it’s just sort of my own interest in American folklore. I’m in this place where a weird part of history occurred.’ I guess it never really struck me before, but it did then. She lost her sister from a senseless, ignorant situation that I don’t want to support. When she was talking to me, I realized for the first time, ‘What if it was my sister?’ I thought, ‘Fuck Charlie Manson.’ I went home and cried that night. It made me see there’s another side to things, you know?”

I don’t know how honest the quote is, but the album feels honest. It’s my favorite “angry brooding” album. While I spend my weekend trapped at home and covered in dust, I intend to play it on full blast.

Tag, Amy!

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