How Nine Inch Nails Changed My Life
...and it was with just one song
Music is perhaps one of the most powerful forces on the planet. I can guarantee that we have all had our fair share of moments where we heard a piece of music and felt like a song or album was meant for us. It might even feel at times that it was specifically written for us, and that our lives changed for the better (or worse) when we heard that one specific song.
For me personally, there are far too many songs for me to name when the question of "what is your favorite song?" comes up, but there is one song I have that always connects my brain to a specific memory. It's not only something that has remained a constant in my life ever since, but it's definitely a moment that forever changed me as a person.
For those of you who had antenna televisions back in the day, you might remember that there was a way to get MTV2 on those televisions. That is, if you adjusted the antenna just right. I was one of those teenagers that used to obsessively watch MTV2 because I thought it was better than the poppy, TRL standard on regular MTV. After all, MTV2 was the only station you could catch the re-hash of Headbanger's Ball back in the early 2000s, as well as shows like All That Rocks.
Now, my favorite band is Nine Inch Nails and they have been a favorite of mine since the moment I am about to share with you. For this tale, let's all rewind our minds back to 2002 and put yourselves in the time where MTV2 (and sometimes MTV) still actually played music videos and you could watch concert specials.
Back in January 2002, I was just 13 years old and I would usually turn on MTV2 after hours so my parents didn't know what I was watching and listening to. What can I say? My parents didn't like me watching MTV and weren't to thrilled about me being more into rock/metal genres. Despite that fact, I was a bit of a rebel back then and always found a way to get my eyes and ears on what I was into.
I remember turning on the channel and seeing this man with long black hair in a shadowed room giving an interview and I was thinking, "who is this?" I quickly found out that I had come across the "Live: And All That Could Have Been" concert special by Nine Inch Nails, which profiled their 2000 Fragility Tour.
As the special went on, I listened to the music I was hearing and was just gradually being pulled into it. The lyrics were interesting, the sounds were unlike anything I had heard before, and the performance style simply was something I couldn't seem to turn away from. It wasn't until the third track where I just knew my life would never be the same, and that whatever I had just stumbled on would always be a part of it.
Upon hearing the live rendition of "March of the Pigs," it's hard for me to even describe to this day what about this song connected with me. Whether it was the drum rhythm (I'm a drummer), the lyrics, or the energy, there was something about the song and the group that latched itself onto me. I wound up watching the whole special and even after seeing all of the songs included, none of them stuck out as strongly as "March of the Pigs" did.
As time went on and I learned about how the lyrics of the song were technically depicting the woes of a Capitalist society, and how people often strive to see you fail if you reach any sort of success. It just spoke to me so loud it was like I couldn't hear anything else. The song as a whole for me represents this state of controlled anarchy and it allows you to be angry, but also keeps you grounded in the reality of what is going on. It's a message I've never quite been able to shake.
It is now 2017 and I've been a Nine Inch Nails fan ever since that night in 2002. As it currently stands, I've seen NIN live in concert 5 times and even have a logo tattooed on my back. Each time I have seen a NIN concert, it seems that something special or different has happened whenever they've played "March of the Pigs," which has been all 5 times for me. My love and appreciation for what Trent Reznor brings to us musically and visually has just grown as the years have gone by. Part of my ever evolving love for film has come from the visual components Reznor would create to accompany his music.
I would even go far enough to say that the "And All That Could Have Been" special arrived at a perfect time for what was going on in my life. I think somehow I needed to be introduced to this music because it has helped me through more than I could ever begin to express. I don't know if I would go far enough to say I'm still alive because of the music, but it might not be too far of a stretch if I did.
That is part of the beauty and allure we all have with music. It doesn't always happen, but sometimes a song can really introduce us to a brand new world or open our eyes to something we hadn't ever explored before. It's a constant evolution and I am always looking forward to hearing new songs that might shift my life in another direction, or change it entirely. It has happened to me before and it could easily happen again. The only question is, when will it happen again?