Tag Archive: Trent Reznor


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“The whole world’s comin’ to an end, Mal!” — Mickey

It was late summer back in 1994.  I had gradiated from Olde Genevieve, but college hadn’t started yet.  I was in a dawg haus with my girlyfriend’s parents from which I was never destined to emerge.  Nevertheless, we went to the movies one night.  It was a strange crowd.  One that never really hung out together.  In addition to me and the Drama Queen, the Artistic One and Top Gear were with us.  Now, to this day the Artistic One and Top Gear remain polar opposites on the electromagnetic spectrum, so yeah, it was weird.  But we were all out to see Ollie Stone’s latest controversial flick, a little ditty named Natural Born Killers.  It was supposed to be uber-violent and edgy, kinda like a modern A Clockwork Orange.  And usually that kind of thing would have been right up the Artistic One’s alley, but for some reason he didn’t take to it and he stepped out to smoke a ciggy.  And strangely enough, so did the Drama Queen, even though she didn’t smoke.  But it kind of got my proverbial goat, ’cause I had this weird vendetta against cigs since mi padre died when I was a wee lad, so it put me in a bad mood.  And it was just me and Top Gear watching the movie, and he was pretty much hating every minute of it.  So about halfway through (right about when Mickey and Mallory go into the drugstore to get the snakebite juice) we all bailed.  Which is okay…the second half of the movie is rubbish anyway.  But it was just a strange night, and it wound up being the last movie the Drama Queen and I would ever see together.

The connection here is that the song “Sweet Jane” features very prominently in the movie and on its soundtrack.  In fact, it’s sort of Mickey and Mallory’s theme and it comes back several times in the movie when ever they have a romantic scene.  But it’s not the Lou Reed version of the song, it’s a cover done by the Cowboy Junkies.  And all through college I used to love that version of the song.  Its mellow and soothing and the slide guitar just relaxes my mind and the la la section at the end takes me to another place.  Actually, the entire NBK soundtrack is killer (forgive the pun) and features tons of really great songs.  It was pretty much hand selected by Mercer, Pennsylvania’s favorite son and was Trenton’s first foray in cinema music (he’d win an Oscar later on for The Social Network original score).  And “Burn” may be the best non-album NIN track.

But as good as the soundtrack is, the movie pretty much is crap.  Even Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr. can’t save it.  And that’s despite being written by my favorite auteur, Quentin Tarantino (sort of).  As the story goes, after Tarantino had dropped out of high school and was working at the video store, he wrote three scripts: True Romance, Natural Born Killers, and Reservoir Dogs.  Well, he wanted to make Dogs himself, so he sold the other two to finance it.  True Romance wound up being made by Tony Scott (who changed the ending), and Oliver Stone picked up NBK.  The thing is, he completely rewrote it…so much so that QT asked to have his name taken off it (he still gets a story credit).  Now, I’ve read the original script, and its basically a crime drama (much like the rest of QT’s early work).  But Stone decided to make it a media statire and his transparent moralizing ruins the film.  And the 8 million cuts are bizarre and fairly obvious (“hey look, it’s Mickey’s inner demon!”).  Its sort of an attempt at 90s psychedelia, but it doesn’t work and it hasn’t aged well.

So I picked up this album a year or so ago at the east side Half Price Books that used to off Brice Road (it recently moved all the way up to McNaughten).  They were playing it over the sound system while I was browsing, and when I got up to the register I asked how much it was and the clerk said $6.99 American and I said “I’ll take it!” (probably without that much enthusiasm).  As far as the music goes, I dig the songs Lou Reed sings and not much else.  Doug Yule just really doesn’t do it for me.  But hey, at least Nico was long gone by this point.  Actually, Lou Reed was gone too by the time this was released…on to a stellar solo career (minus that one collaboration a few years ago with Metallica…ugh, that record is terrible!).

Other lists: “Sweet Jane” is #342 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Ch-ch-changes: Even the Velvets are not immune to the critical darling that is Kid A and drop one spot from their original position of #109.

My favorite track: “Sweet Jane”

Honorable mention: “Rock & Roll”

Quote: “Then one fine mornin’ she puts on a New York station, she couldn’t believe what she heard at all.  She started dancin’ to the fine fine music, you know her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll.”

There's a Riot Goin' On

So here we have another answer to Marvin Gaye’s essential question What’s Going On?…well, apparently there’s a riot goin’ on.  And that may be a reference to riot that happened at a concert when Sly went on stage late (shades of Axl Rose there), or it could be a general statement on the racial violence gripping American in the aftermath of the civil rights movement.  Either way, this is not the fun, happy Sly Stone we met on the Greatest Hits record.  This album is much darker, and while it still grooves, it certainly isn’t the fun summertime party music he had been making previously.  For the most part, it sounds like one long, extended jam session that has been cut up into separate tracks.  Except it’s not really a jam session, nor is it really a Family Stone album, because it’s mostly just Sly doing the Prince/Trent Reznor thing (prior, of course, to Prince or Trent Reznor doing the Prince/Trent Reznor thing) and playing most of the instruments himself with a few guest artists like Billy Preston (who played with Beatles), Ike Turner, and Bobby Womack helping out.  I picked this up for $7 at the Exchange in North Olmstead this past summer when I was up in the Land for a weekend at the Princess’ alma mater.  It takes a few spins to really dig into it.  And even the remastered CD is still a little murky from all of Sly’s overdubs.

Other lists: See entry #61 on Sly and the Family Stone’s Greatest Hits.

My favorite track: “Time”

Honorable mention: “Spaced Cowboy” (nice yodel work)

Quote: “My only weapon is my pen, and the frame of mind I’m in.”

Off the Wall

I found this CD last month in the used bin for $4.99 at Magnolia Thunderpussy on Record Store Day (they didn’t have any of the RSD exclusives that I was searching for…nor did any record store in town).  Now Magnolia’s is one of the few surviving campus record stores from my undergraduate days at Ohio State (Used Kids and Johnny Go’s are the only others), and it was one of my favorite places to go back in the day when they were on south campus.  They used to have quite an inventory of bootleg concert videos on VHS, and I remember being excited to find Nine Inch Nails’ still un-officially released “Broken” video there (it has the “Help Me I Am In Hell” video blacked out, so it is likely a bootleg of one of the copies Trent Reznor gave out to his close friend Gibby Haynes).  Lord Bacchus had a Pearl Jam concert that he bought there, and since it was shot by a fan in the crowd, all of the faces of the bandmembers looked pretty much green, red, and blue from the stage lights…but it was still watchable.  Unfortunately, even though Magnolia’s (by the way, the name “Magnolia Thunderpussy” refers to a San Francisico bulesque performer) has managed to survive the digital download MP3 revolution of the 2000s, they couldn’t survive Campus Partners in their original south campus location.  Campus Partners was a group of evil yuppie scum that formed in the late 90s (and was no doubt a part of the International Wolverine Conspiracy) and who decided to “clean up” south campus…and by cleaning up I mean they ran out all the independently owned bars, shops, and restaurants and replaced them with a bunch of overpriced national chains (of which most have already gone out of buisness and are now vacant storefronts).  So Campus Partners pretty much ruined south campus and kicked Magnolia’s out, but they relocated to the Short North (actually, the Short North has expanded north to them) and they have a place right next to another relocated campus institution, Skully’s Music Diner.

So enough Columbus history.  Let’s talk about Michael Jackson.  I still struggle with MJ.  I don’t know what he did or didn’t do with young children on his Neverland ranch, but it’s all really creepy to me and it certainly tarnishes his image in my mind.  But it’s now been five years since his death, and people seem to be forgetting all of that stuff and refocusing on his music.  In fact, he seems more popular than ever with the kids in school, and I heard more buzz from the kids about the Michael Jackson 3D hologram on the Billboard Music Awards (I did not see it personally) than just about anything else all year (with the possible exception of Beyonce’s super secret album release).  So in the spirit of things, I will try to just focus on the music on this album, which was his first record with Quincy Jones pulling the producer strings.  And the truth is, I don’t really dig it.  There is a fine line between funk and disco, and this album crosses that line all too frequently (maybe MJ was already starting to explore his inner white guy).  And it seems like MJ hadn’t really discovered that mid-range voice that he used so well on the Thriller album (although the gutteral interjections are already in full effect here), and so he spends most of the songs in a really super high range that just kind of bugs me (especially on “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”).  But there is an amazing ballad on the second side, “She’s Out of My Life” (which apparently Quincy was going to give to Sinatra, but MJ wanted a crack at it first and nailed it), and a Stevie Wonder penned song, “I Can’t Help It”, that is the funkiest thing on the album.  Oh, and there is a Paulie song too (what is with all the Paul McCartney/Michael Jackson connections?) called “Girlfriend”, but it’s not that great.

Other lists: “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” is #3, “Rock With You” is #10, “Workin’ Day and Night” is #14, “She’s Out of My Life” is #19, “Off the Wall” is #22, “Burn this Disco Out” is #27, and “Get on the Floor” is #33 on the very newly published Rolling Stone list of the Top 50 Michael Jackson songs.  See the Thriller entry for other accolades Rolling Stone has given MJ.

Ch-ch-changes: By leap-frogging Zeppelin IV and The Stranger, this album has somehow remained in the same spot as it was on the original list, despite the addition of Chronicle and the rise of Kid A.

My favorite track: “She’s Out of My Life”

Honorable mention: “I Can’t Help It”

A word from the Princess: “The beat goes on”

Quote: “Do what you want to do.  There ain’t no rules, it’s up to you.”