Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Broken"

I got my first CD player for Christmas in 1991, along with my first CD, U2’s “Achtung Baby.” I turned 12 in January 1992, and over the course of that year, bought albums from a few other artists you may have heard of: Nirvana, White Zombie, and Green Day (each of those is a story in itself). I knew I liked rock (thanks, Dad), and all of those albums delivered the goods.

Late in the year I was chatting with my friend Adam, who was going on about how this band “Nine Inch Nails” was coming out with a new album, and he was going to get a copy for me when he went to the store. I was oblivious upon receiving it, and gave it a good bit of scrutiny; it was the first album case made of cardboard I’d ever seen. It didn’t flip open in the traditional way, either – it had a three-flap n-i-n (hmm, no backwards ‘n’ option on this keyboard…) cover which revealed the CD. There were lyrics – and another interesting note: “Nine inch nails is Trent Reznor.”

Of course, it was time to see what this was all about: I placed the CD delicately in the tray, and let it wind up – 99 songs?! I pushed “play.”

“Pinion” is essentially a warning. I ended up cranking my stereo volume far beyond reasonable levels because the track fades in from nothing, so by the time it reached its steady-state volume it was seriously loud. Then came the rapid-fire opening drums of “Wish.”

“This is the first day of my last days”

Then

SHIT!!! An avalanche of noise like nothing I’d ever heard before. A sound not so much like guitar, but like an earth-shattering explosion, like a caged animal trying to escape.

Should I turn it down? Naaah.

“Wish there was something real, wish there was something true!
Wish there was something real in this world full of you!”

I was only 12, but I knew this was what hurt sounded like. Reznor had taken all his anger and put it in a little box, engulfed with flames, and offered it to us.

“Broken” has aged exceptionally, and stands as one of the cornerstones of Reznor’s body of work. The other day I was talking with a casual listener who said “I just can’t convince myself to pay full CD price for an EP” (which of course, effectively prompted this lengthy response). He doesn’t know what he’s missing.

2 Comments:

Blogger ZLew said...

I'll never forget the day my buddy JR explained to me that NIN was just Trent, and that he picked up differnt guys every year to tour with. All the music and recording was just him.
I saw an interview with Johny Cash last week, and he talked about doing the Hurt video with Trent... it was really pretty cool.

By the way, I got you linked on my site www.zlew.net/thoughts

10:43 AM  
Blogger Joon Nune said...

that WAS a good album...er...EP

11:21 AM  

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