[Note from the Ed. -- Well it's good to know some things never change; when I post a critique, people get pissy -- and yesterday was no exception. But a couple readers did have some good points, and I'd like to thank our very own Maise for making something clear to me: I should be taking more of a leadership role here than I have lately, and on that tip, I'm happy to present the latest installment of Understanding Teeth. I think this one in particular is something you'll all enjoy.]
People say that Trent Reznor is clear and sober these days, but I think he still tells the tales of his frightful addiction. No song on his latest record does this with more terrifying detail than the title track, which describes a harrowing visit to a Unionized Sex Worker one dreary night...
The song opens with the faint slowed down sounds of MOANING… as in people having sex. You know; doing the nasty. Cause we’re in a whorehouse… and we feel dirty? Like we can feel the sin on our skin... yeah... so filthy... do you feel dirty?
I know I sure do. Take my hand; I’ll show you the way.
“She comes along, she gets inside...”. The hooker (let’s call her Betina) comes into the darkened room, looking down at you, and removes her garment and slips into the bed with you. You start to get excited; hell, she’s making you better than anything you’ve ever tried. Even that blow and the trick with putting the live frog on your junk. This chick is hott.
The two of you begin to MATE – and it’s pretty awesome. How awesome? Well when you’re inside the black as sea part, you realize just what a professional she is – she runs deeper than you dared to dream it could be.
Then you feel something clamping down on your junk! What is it? What the fuck is that?!?!?!? You look down, and see blood! Her special velvet spot, it’s…. ”With Teeeeeeeeethaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!!”, you scream.
You used to be a man; now you’re a woman! Fuck! So wave goodbye to what you were dude; without your member the whole lines between whiny bitch guy that digs on dudes from time to time, and just plain old whiny bitchy girl that digs on chicks from time to time certainly begins to seem pretty blurry.
But wait a second – Betina is still shaking and grinding! How is that possible? Well the part of you that she still has is STILL HARD! It’s still STRONG! It seems to have FINALLY FOUND THE PLACE WHERE IT BELONGS!!!!
Fuck! That sucks! This would be so much cooler if you were still attached to the phallus!
But of course, if you were still attached, you’d have to experience the biting of the teeth again. And really, you cannot go through this again.
You cannot go through this again.
You cannot go through this again.
So bleeding, the room a frenzied mess, you try to leave, and just like the guy in that band King Missile you don’t want to leave your (newly) detachable penis behind. But she will not let you go; she’s just going on an on (damn, your severed junk doesn’t even need batteries! High five to your cut-off tallywhacker!)
So you finally say “Fine, fuck it” (though you don’t mean this literally, you really just mean it as a euphemism for leaving, not for giving her permission to pleasure herself with your severed flesh. You get my point). But you try one last time to swipe your cock back, but she will not let you go.
You swear you’re never coming back, that this is the lousiest brothel you’ve ever been to. “I mean it,” you say. “No cock, I’m gonna badmouth you all over town.” She still doesn’t let it go.
And you leave cockless. Because she cut if off. With Teeth.
Man, Singapore whorehouses suck sometimes.
At the first few arena shows on this tour, M.T. Reznor debuted a new song to the loyal fans -- as always, it rocked major ass, proving his Powers Of Rocking to be EVEN MORE POWERFUL than we had previously thought.
But what is this new song, "Not So Pretty Now" really about? Well though it was not featured on the record [With_Teeth], I think it's safe to say it does land within the same songwriting cycle as the Teeth tracks, so I am pleased to present a special vaginae dentata edition of Understanding Teeth!
not so pretty now
The song's a straight ahead rocker, and the lyrics get quickly to the point: "You like to open it, open wide", Trent sings, apparently about the mythical She that has haunted his dreams (and music) for the past 16 years. "Then you let everyone come inside. There's always something you gotta hide, so you lied and you lied and you lied."
It's clear what's going on here. Whoever this chick he's singing about is a total whore. And I don't think it was her apartment that she was letting everyone come inside to, if you know what I mean. Just like at my fucking Prom. But I've already had readers stir up stories about Marcia Muneses so I'm leaving that shit to another day.
"You got a hole that you gotta feed / You tried to fill it all up with your greed". See, this chick just can't get enough. She's probably like some total dirty skank whore, with low self esteem that doesn't care if a decent guy (or rockstar) gave a shit about her or not, because the only way she can feel good about herself is if somebody gives her attention. You remember that awesome scene in the beginning of Reservoir Dogs where Quentin Tarantino talks about the chick in "Like A Virgin" and how she's a total dirty fuck-machine? Well, he didn't mention too much about why she was like that in the song, but I guess this was the reason why.
"But it bleeds, and it bleeds, and it bleeds," Trent sings. I'll leave this line to all of you to figure out.
Aaron North's guitar then kicks in with a wicked and dark little riff right here. "We'll go take a little more, we'll scrape you off the floor. We love you anyhow, but you're not so pretty now." Obviously, not only did this chick fuck around on the character Trent's singing about, she apparently got down and dirty with a whole bunch of people, rutting it up on the bathroom floor like a dog in heat. Probably would have gone on fucking more guys, too, if her date's three glasses of punch hadn't caught up with him, necessitating a trip to the restroom, where he caught Ms. Not So Pretty on all fours with her corsage in the air, turning what was supposed to be a beautiful evening of young love and perfection into a sloppy series of fuckhole nightmares.
You know, it's fucked up when you think you know somebody, and you take time to respect them, and not pressure them, because you think that's how decent people do things, only to be totally taken advantage of. It's like, you don't go past second base for like three months, and you're fucking 17, and you think it's because you're being a cool guy, when all that's really happening is that you're paying for all the movie tickets and trips to Marie Callendar's, but you're getting none of the payoff.
So I guess it makes sense that when you catch somebody fucking you over like that, you decide maybe to go along with it. "Nobody burns quite as bright; well Goddamn, maybe you're right." So you say fine, I can cast my cumberbund aside and join in, "and you might, yes you just might, you just might." But it's really not that easy --- "there is a price you're going to pay" -- and not all of us have an easy time "performing" on command. Especially when three dudes that just did your pseudo-girlfriend are right there. I mean fuck, Trent Reznor said just the other day on that Spiral video footage that he gets nervous before every show -- how's a 17-year-old with a broken heart that's been lied to for months on end supposed to keep from "fading and fading and fading the fuck away"?
After all the deeds have been done, no matter how degraded they've been, some girls think they've won. "A great big superstar is what you think you are", as Trent sings. "We love you anyhow, but you're not so pretty now." I don't know how a girl could be pretty after playing bukkake bingo with half the J.V. squad, and then laughing about it like she was Queen of the School or anything. And though Trent doesn't say it in the song, I'm sure this girl wanted a ride home back from Prom after all this had gone down, and he had to go ahead and do it, because all along he'd just tried to be a nice guy, like a total fucking idiot. And it's not like Dad was around to give any advice about how to handle women in the first place, so how the fuck was anybody to know any different?
And to top it all of, after you take her home, she thinks she can placate you by finally giving you a little special one-on-one action. "Better turn the lights down low..." But how can you really go back to the way things were before, as "the cracks begin to show". I think that's a great piece of writing there, because I think Trent is literally talking about crack (it could be crack as in cleft, or crack as in butt crack, but nothing ever really went the way of the latter. I bet this girl in Trent's song was all excited about her Brazilian wax job, though, and thought that it would make everything better, that's for damn sure).
And when you drive home that night, wondering what you did to make the first woman you ever cared about hate you so much, you realize that "soon you will be gone", and that you'll get the fuck out of the stupid town you were raised in and get away from the high school bullshit, and even if you don't get out of Southern California, at least you can move to your own place away from all the bullshit motherfuckers in Rancho.
And so Trent's cautionary tale ends -- as with all his songs, the beauty lies in the lyric's ability to describe universal situations that we can all understand, even if we ourselves have never personally been involved in any fucked up situations like that. I mean, a situation like that could totally fuck up your ability to deal with women for years, you know?
Not that you'd want to waste your time bothering with them anyway.
Howdy, bitches. I know you're all out there, getting ready to see Michael T. ShinyPants over the next coming weeks, and you're probably pretty excited -- not only is he wearing PVC, vinyl, and eyeliner again, but he's also playing some songs we've never heard live before (unfortunately, one of the songs is "Deep", so though we may have the joy of "Only" finally, we also have to hear how Trent would rather be "someplace, lost in space", but what're you gonna do).
However, you're probably also feeling another emotion: FEAR. "Gabriel, we're going to hear these new songs for the first time live," you're probably saying. "But how can we properly experience them when we don't understand what they mean -- you never finished explaining the meaning of the rest of the songs on the record!"
Well rest easy, my sweet bitches. And witness the triumphant return of Understanding Teeth!
In Dierdre's last Call & Response we established for sure that M.T. Reznor believes in God, and we've even talked before how "All The Love In the World" is a song written from the point of view of God. Well Trent doesn't disappoint when it comes to being a stickler for thematic consistency, when this fantastic ditty -- and rumor has it next single -- turns out to be a first person account of the crucifixion, written by Jesus Christ himself!
The song begins with a few notes from an out-of-tune piano, rather similar to the sad sounds of an angel's broken harp, I think... if an angel played a piano, rather than a harp. But a harp would have sounded dumb here, so Trent went with the piano thing. Plus I don't know if he knows how to play a harp. Though he could have just sampled one. Well, anyway, it starts off with the sounds of the broken ange-harp, and then the super-phat Roman-esque bassline kicks in: bohm-bohm-bohm-bohm-bohm, immediately calling to mind the slowly approaching inevitable doom of our Savior.
This is where we catch up with Trent/Christ, carrying his cross up the hill towards Golgotha, where he's about to get crucified. "I believe I can see the future" he says -- I mean come on; he's the son of God after all, right? -- "as I repeat the same routine." Now some people think that "the same routine" means one foot in front of the other, because TrentChrist had to carry his cross all the way through the city and all the way down to the hill where the other two thieves that were about to get 'nailed were waiting (at least that's how it looked in the Mel Gibson movie. That movie was totally bloody and badass by the way -- and Satan looked like a scary motherfucker, even though he/she/it was kinda hot).
I, however, think that "the same routine" reference is aimed more towards a polytheological view on the world, where the crucifixion of Christ is also metaphoric for all the slain heros and martyrs of all times, or even of other religions (i.e., Buhdda, the suffering of the Dalai Lama, etc.) But either way, that bohm-bohm-bohm-bohm noise sounds like it's from pretty hate machine and totally makes you want to shake your ass and get funky, so it really doesn't matter.
Then ChristTrent is put up on the boards -- and what did the nail him to the cross with? That's right: nine inch nails. And he's feeling some regret, you know? He thinks he used to have a purpose, but it was so long ago, after he's been up on the sticks for a bit, it feels like another lifetime; "it might have been a dream". Of course, I'm sure concepts like "lifetimes" and "dreams" are pretty malleable for, like, GOD and his immediate family, but still -- I know the feeling.
Also, you get thirsty up there on the cross, and we all know what happens when you get really thirsty -- it gets hard to talk. "I think I used to have a voice", ChristTrent says. "Now I never make a sound." Then one of the Roman guards tells him to Shut The Fuck Up, Bitch, You're Dead Now, Haha!, and stabs him in the side with the Spear of Destiny. This probably hurts, and TrentChrist doesn't want to get stabbed with the spear again, so he decides to "do what I've been told; I really don't want them to come around [with the big sharp spear] oh, no".
And that's how it goes... sun rises, look around; yep, still nailed to the cross. Sun sets. Sun rises the next day -- damn! Still crucified! Sun sets. And so on and so forth. It never changes, you see. In fact, as Trent tells us, "Every day is exactly the same"!!!
Now Trent is always a writer that tells stories from the unflinching personal side of life, nor does he hold back here either, tackling an unspoken element of crucifixion: bowel movements. See, even though you're nailed to a cross, you still have to go Number Two from time to time, and unfortunately, when everybody's watching you croak on a couple 2x4's, you can't really be too shy about it. "I can feel their eyes are watching", he tells us, "In case I lose myself again." I think it's pretty obviously he means lose control of his bowels, but you can't really have a song destined for radio greatness where you blatantly talk about shitting yourself, so Trent's clever metaphor disguises the meaning from the douchebag radio listener, while still making it clear to the enlightened fan.
He goes on to say some other stuff -- talking about pretending to be happy, and knowing once again how things are going to end -- but it all means the same thing: Being Crucified Is Boring. He underscores this with another chorus, and then something strange happens.
Trent sings about "writing on a little piece of paper, I'm hoping someday you might find. I'll hide it behind something they won't look behind." Now at first you might be saying to yourself, "Gabriel, Trent's gone crazy! There's no way he could be writing on paper when he's crucified! And where's this place he's supposed to be hiding it? Why did he ruin the song with such an obvious error?"
Well first of all, I think TrentChrist could write on paper if he wanted to -- remember, he's the Son of God, which means he can do magic, which is totally awesome, but I think Trent was much more clever than that.
Take a look at the picture of the crucifixion up above... go on. Okay, good. Now -- see what's right above the head of TrentChrist? Yes, that's right: IT'S A LITTLE PIECE OF PAPER THAT HE WROTE SOMETHING ON!!!!!! The very thing that Trent hid the paper behind was HIMSELF!
Now that he's written his goodbye note, TrentChrist is getting ready to die -- "I am still inside here" he says, "A little bit comes bleeding through". Probably out of the hole in his side from the spear, I bet. And as he gets ready to commit his soul to heaven, he reflects in that very human way that only Trent knows how to do: "I wish this could have been any other way, but I just don't know. Don't know what else I can do."
Man, that's intense, isn't it? Even Jesus was bummed out that he had to get the living shit beat out of him for days and hung up on some wood until his insides collapsed upon themselves to save the human race. Shit, if I were him, I'd wish it could be any other way too. But I bet God's a pretty demanding Dad sometimes; and when he says you have to get beaten and killed, sometimes you just have to get beaten and killed.
And as Trent screams out the final chorus, the last iteration of "Every day is the same!!!" is filled with a furious, anxious flight, as he is finally released. For every day will no longer be the same for him any longer, for he shall walk beside his father in the Kingdom of Heaven evermore.
Damn; it's so fucking rad that Trent's a Christian. I hope the next record has even more songs about Jesus!
It's been a crazy past couple of weeks everyone, what with the San Diego Shows, the recording that L'orangerie Stank has been doing, and even just this weekend the abuse Dierdre and I have been taking over at Echoing the Sound. To top it off, last night Dierdre and I went to a party, and we were all really drunk, and Alex tried to kiss me, insisting that he "knew how I really felt about him". I tried to tell him I was straight, but he wouldn't listen and kept trying shit all night -- something that's been happening every time I've seen him since the K Street party. But I guess that's why we're not friends though, right?
But back to business, I have been getting those emails you've sent, looking for deeper meanings in Trent Reznor's lastest masterwork. Well you can lift your fingers from your collective "send" button -- I'm happy to welcome you all to another installment of Understanding Teeth!
love is not enough
Warning! This installment of "Understanding Teeth" features adult themes! Underage supervision is advised!
One of the great things about the work of M.T. Reznor is how it always feels like he's right inside your head. From the first time I saw the band when I was 13, it's always seemed that Trent's somehow been able to write songs that relate to what I'm going through in my life. (I think that's what all great music does, even if it's classical music and stuff like that. Though I guess it would've been harder for people in olden times to specifically relate to a song that didn't have any words and was just a guy with a piano, and some violins or something. Then again, they talked different back then, so maybe it wasn't a problem after all. I don't know. But irregardless, I know that the music of nine inch nails really strikes home with me, which is why it's so powerful in the first place).
A couple years ago I was dating a girl -- I don't want to use names here, because we're not really friends anymore, so we'll just call her "Tina" -- and we'd been dating a couple months, and as we all know, after a couple months, stuff gets boring in the bedroom. I'm talking about SEX. Tina and I had lots and lots of sex, because she was a really hot girl, but no matter how good stuff is at first, it always gets boring after awhile. So you need to spice it up. A problem everyone understands, and one Trent gives us great insight into on this track!
His beautiful tapestry of words flows over the tribal sexual drumbeat, "the more that we take, the paler we get; I can't remember what it is -- we try to forget." Well, let me tell you, Tina and I would mess around ALL THE TIME, and it would get exhausting; this is right after I moved out of my Mom's and my apartment didn't have any air conditioning. We would get so tired, we'd just get paler and paler. Tina'd also start forgetting where she was and stuff... but then again, she had a blood sugar problem and almost passed out, which was probably too pale. But I had some orange juice and she ended up okay.
Now the character Trent's talking about goes into the bathroom, where there's a "tile on the floor so cold it could sting", and he's with a girl in whose "eyes is a place worth remembering". Let me tell you, nothing's worse than walking into a tile bathroom barefooted when it's really cold. But just like Trent talks about, Tina and I would Do It in the bathroom all the time, cold floor or not. That's a place worth remembering for sure!
Now the lyrics go from gauzy and romantic, to frustrated: "I've gone all this fucking way to wind up... to wind up back at the start!" Trent's voice cracks with the fury of his frustration, and I totally know how he feels! When you have a heterosexual relationship like I had with Tina, you go through all this rigamorale to get close and intimate with somebody, and then you find yourself bored, just like in the beginning when you were home by yourself playing GTA: San Andreas.
This is why you need to start introducing new things into your sexual repetoire, and as the chorus hits Trent's singing about that very thing. The song's not clear about what kind of new kinkiness is being introduced in this character's life (Trent, the brilliant songsmith that he is, leaves it vague so we all can relate!) but I'm pretty sure it comes down to utilizing the "back entrance", if you know what I'm talking about.
Well now that they've got their lube and are trying new things, they're reflecting -- "Hey, the closer we think we are, well it only got us so far." Damn right, it only did -- until you took that trip to the Love Boutique, that is. "Now you got anything left to show?" I asked this of Tina all the time, and after we'd stepped it up a notch, obviously there wasn't anything I hadn't seen. Then in summation, Trent says some lines that explain why this character neeeded a little bit extra -- quite simply, your traditional boring regular sex (a/k/a "love") was not enough.
How does TR manage to know what's in our heads so specficially. It is magic, I tell you.
For his second verse, Trent just describes the Naughty Service Entrance Act that he started doing earlier in the song: "well it hides in the dark, like the withering vein" (I think all of us guys feel that one, right?); "we didn't give it a mouth so it could not complain" (when I was having all of this heterosexual action with Tina she said it wasn't like porn movies where the girls all love the Backyard Bounty. Good thing it wasn't given a mouth to complain with!); "and to think I believed, i believed i could get better with you" (how stupid of him! Why get better having sex the Old Way when you've now got the awesome Love Is Not Enough New Way!!!)
And then the chorus repeats again, and the drumbeat ends, song over, and you're spent.
Yeah... Trent certainly nailed it home with this tune. I miss those old days with Tina. She was hot.
Alex is a dick.
[Understanding_Teeth_4.0]the hand that feeds
We live in scary times these days. Our political system is running crazy, kids are shooting each other in high schools, and you can't even bring your fucking lighter with you on an airplane anymore. What gives? What am I supposed to do when I take a clove break when I have a layover when flying to New Orleans, you know?
Given the harsh realities of these times, and the horrible significance some world events take these days, it's understandable that we need a rallying cry against our acting leader, and people have jumped on the first single from [With_Teeth] to serve that purpose.
While I agree that the song can be interpreted to be about political stuff if you look for it -- Trent himself has been so amused that everybody thought it was a political diatribe that at the last couple shows he's dedicated the song to "George W. Fuckin' Bush"! And people say Trent doesn't pay attention to his fans!! -- I think the truth about the hand that feeds is something much different (and even more powerful!):
Yep, that's right. The single is very obviously about Trent's passion and dedication to the work of actor Orlando Bloom -- I'd even go so far as to say that Trent feels like he is Orlando sometimes.
I admit cracking the "hand" code wasn't easy at first -- I'd heard so many people talking about "politics, politics, politics" that I wasn't able to get this rather obvious interpretation out of my brain. But we all know that Trent is much deeper than that, and finally in the second verse I realized what he was talking about: "What if this whole crusade's a charade / And behind it all there's a price to be paid."
"The Crusade" he's referring to is obviously Orlando's new movie Kingdom of Heaven, which is about the Holy Crusades themselves! (You might remember that Trent references this movie earlier in the album, on all the love in the world). The "price to be paid" would therefore be the price for the movie ticket that Trent will have to pay to go see the movie when it comes out -- I'm sure living in L.A., and being a super-famous rock star, he could get to go to all kinds of free screenings, but since he's on tour he probably has to pay like everybody else.
So now that we know what the song's about, the rest starts making a lot more sense -- the first verse is all about Orlando's performance as the elf Legolas in the Lord of the Rings movies. "You're keeping in step in the line / Got your chin held high and you feel just fine" describes the journey that he took with Aragorn and Gimli as they crossed Middle-Earth; Legolas always walked with his shoulders squared and straight, and his chin held high looking out at the horizon. "Because you do what you're told" is for all the times that he let Aragorn lead them -- because Aragorn was obviously the King that was going to return in the third movie. And the bit about his heart feeling black and cold inside is the conundrum of all the elves -- they're remote and detached, without emotion -- but during the LOTR movies Orlando's amazing performance made us feel that Legolas learned to be friends and open up inside so his hard would be warm and white instead! Or grey, at the very least.
So what was the other movie that came out with Orlando Bloom recently? Troy, which was a kinda shitty adaptation of some really old book that I was supposed to read in high school but never did. Anyway, Brad Pitt is all buff and cool in this movie, but the best part is Orlando who, as Paris, has to fight the husband of the man who's wife he stole (because Orlando was way hawter than the fat guy that was married to Helen in the first place). Well Orlando's brother offers to get him out of the fight, but Orlando won't do it -- he needs to be a man! He'd rather give up everything he has than be a coward; this is how he "bites the hand that feeds!"
Well the fight doesn't go well -- he does bleed, and end up on his knees, and he's sorta brave enough to see... and right at the end he's about to get killed and decides that he wants to change it. Well you can see the movie and find out the rest from there, but I think it was totally clever of Trent to talk about the movie in the chorus like this. Most people won't even know what you're talking about when you bring it up, so it's sort of like a secret code or handshake: If you know what "biting the hand that feeds" really means, you're in the club!
"Well what about Pirates of the Caribbean, Gabriel?" you may be asking. "That movie was super cool, with the sword fighting and everything, and Orlando was super hawt in that one too! Doesn't Trent like pirate movies?" Of course he does; you just have to listen!
"So naive to keep holding on to what I want to believe / And I can see but I keep holding on and on and on and on." Now, if you remember, in Pirates Orlando's character was the son of a famous super-badass pirate, but Orlando didn't know this until halfway through the movie. When he found out, he was upset and rejected the idea, because he wanted to be an honorable man who fought on the right side of the law (even if the right side was a bunch of wusses). This is what the bridge is about -- Orlando's naive to think that being a pirate is so bad, when he's obviously so good at it, and gets to hang out with Johnny Depp (I mean come on, Johnny introduced NIN at the 1999 MTV VMAs when they played "the fragile"). How can being a pirate be bad when you've got that stuff going for you!
Fortunately, we all know that Orlando decided being a pirate was the right way to go in the end -- and I think that's what Trent is trying to tell us too. Orlando knows what he's doing!
when you open your mouth wide and try to take it all, you are…
Well things are certainly different than they were back in the days of The Downward Spiral. No vinyl, no rubber, no cutting-off-the-tip-of- Robin-Finck's-finger-and-acting-like-everyone's-a-dick-for-having-a- problem-with-it. And the record sounds different too; this isn't the introspective Trent Reznor talking about all of his problems that we're used to -- this is a guy writing about people in all different walks of life, people we can all relate to. Like God, or Transvestites, or fluffers with herpes.
Yes, the third track of a Nine Inch Nails record is always an ass-kicker, and "the collector" is no exception. The drums start pumping their herky-jerky rhythm and the booty-shake bass kicks in as Trent begins this tale of a sex worker's life gone awry. "I pick things up, I am a collector. And things, well things they tend to accumulate." Wow, powerful! I know my first thoughts were:
a) How does Trent know my friend Veronica?
b) How does Trent know how easy Veronica is?
c) How does Trent know about all the below-the-belt diseases Veronica's been (shall we say it?) collecting lately.
I know you might be thinking the same things -- how does Trent know my friend/girlfriend/sister/boyfriend -- but it turns out that he's singing this tune about somebody else, as we soon find out.
"I have this net, it drags behind me."
Now before you start wondering why Nine Inch Nails is writing songs about fisherman, take it from me that you can relax -- this is just Trent's use of metaphor. This literary device is used quite often by sophisticated artists like Trent Reznor all the time. For example, if I was writing a poem and wanted to describe that I was feeling all pissed off an angry, I might say that I was a "washing machine on spin of emotion". It shows the reader or audience what you mean without saying something boring like "Alex is a dick and I'm mad at him." You get the idea.
Anyway, Trent doesn't mean a real net here; he's just talking about picking up bits of baggage along the way. Baggage from what? Well it all becomes clear when he reveals that the song is about a fluffer in the porn industry with the line: "And it picks up feelings for me to feed upon." Damn. "Feeding on feelings" is such an obvious euphimism for sex, I was a little surpised at Trent, because he's usually a lot more subtle than that. Plus, I was saying I wanted to "share my feelings" with people to get them into bed back in like high school, and Trent just turned 40. He should have better pick-up lines than that.
But in good dramatic fashion, after the character is established we're plunged into the HELL of her world! "There are times, plenty of times I wish I could let it go!" I bet; no matter how good the pay, who would want to walk around performing fellatio all day long? I mean, a little bit I'm sure would be cool, but all day? No thanks. "But they make me start to think, Things I don't want to know." Yep, there's trouble in this penis paradise; it seems she may have picked up a case or two of something.
Then the chorus busts in, with the guitars buzzing and Trent belts out the feel-good oral sex sing-along of the summer: "I'm trying to fit it all inside / I'm trying to open my mouth wide / I'm trying not to choke..." And people think Trent Reznor is straight? I think we can now all agree he's totally bi-, and I think that makes his music even more powerful. Especially when he tries to "Swallow it all swallow it all swallow it all swallow it all!"
Unfortunately, though we're all excited by how good Trent was at the oral sex singing part, The Collector herself isn't doing so good: "I am the plague, I am the swarm." Yep, it's herpes all right. And not that I'd know about that or anything, but I've heard that totally sucks. Especially if you have an oral outbreak. "All your hurt sticks on me, and I keep it warm..." Now here Trent's just getting disgusting. I mean, maybe they were watching a lot of bukake videos in New Orleans when they were recording the record, or that's what being a rock star for 10 years does to you, but this was just in bad taste. Of course, now that I think about it, maybe he was just talking about how The Collector was hitting a low point or something -- kinda like in Boogie Nights, when Heather Graham gets all jacked up after they're trying to do that reality TV porno show in the limo and the guy from her high school is in there with them? Even though it's totally awesome when she beats the guy up, maybe this is sort of like that. I don't know.
So after she's been diagnosed with several STDs, the Collector decides she wants to get out of the business, because what fun is it at this point, right? But "They make me stay / They won't let me leave / There are so Goddamned many of them / It gets hard to breathe". I mean, with all those men that she has to service, I'm sure all those genitals really do make it hard to breathe. And I'm proud of Trent for shedding light on this problem.
But just like a good M. Night Shyamalan movie, Trent's got something up his sleeve this time! There's more singing about opening up wide, and trying not to choke again, but then Trent twists it around and says "I am a good boy and I will swallow it all!" Yes, that's right! Our fluffer -- The Collector herself -- is the Transvestite from "you know what you are?"!!!!!
And then the song's over -- there's a couple lines about "every last one, every last one", but this is obviously Trent just talking about performing fellatio more, so I figure there's not any reason to really go into that. And he just leaves our poor transsexual sex-industry fluffer with herpes, as he moves on to the next song. Because sometimes the world is a harsh place that leaves you on your knees with an open sore on your lip and a penis in your face.
And yes, the next song is where he talkes about biting the hand that feeds. Coincidence? Yeah, right. Trent Reznor doesn't know the meaning of the word.
you know what you are?
Well after Trent's told us a little bit about what a lonely, sad life God's leading these days, you're probably wondering what he next has up his sleeve. Well lucky for you [With_Teeth] is a fast moving album, and track two comes hard and heavy. You Know What You Are? continues Trent’s new method of songwriting, but instead of looking at The Allmighty, Trent goes back to his taboo, fetish-y roots, this time looking at what it’s like to be a cross-dresser in America today.
“I tried to stick myself though try to get to the other side / I had to patch up the cracks and the holes that I had to hide.” These lines are easily some of the deepest on the record, if only for the many different meanings that they can have depending on how you look at it. On first glance, you might think Trent’s just talking about conformity, or falling apart as a person, but if you think carefully, it’s pretty clear that “sticking himself through” is referring to tucking his private parts behind his legs, so he can get to the “other side” (looking like a woman). The cracks and the holes (though I know you probably have some perverted takes on those words, Rory! LOL) are the parts of him that don’t really feel like a woman, so he has to add things to himself (patching) or cover up that parts are missing (holes he had to hide).
Then Trent tells us that “for a little bit of time (he) even made it work okay” – and it seems like everything’s going to be fine for our little pre-op lad. But then we find out it was really “just long enough to really make it hurt”, and “when you figured me out and it all just rotted away.”
Obviously the Transvestite has started dating somebody, and just like in the freaky movie The Crying Game they started getting busy, and somebody found a little surprise they weren’t expecting. So the Transvestite is standing there, his junk hanging out, while the guy they were making out with is looking at them and starts to scream “Don’t you fucking know what you are? Don’t you fucking know what you are? Don’t you fucking know what you are? Go on get back to where you belong!”
I think these words will sound very familiar to anybody that has a cross-dressing friend that got drunk and made out with a guy who wasn’t so cool with the fact that what they’d thought was a slightly-ugly Extreme Makeover contestant that was going to bone them was actually a dude. “Get back to where you belong.” These words sting.
So now the Transvestite gets mad, and starts shouting back – “You better take a good look cause I’m full of shit / With every bit of my heart I tried to believe in it.” Because who’s going to live all their life and go to all the trouble and work that acting like a woman all the time requires unless they really want to be a woman, you know? That shit's not easy. Hell, sometimes at band practice if we get really drunk we'll do the tuck thing because we think it's funny, and even just that part of it is hard.
So the argument continues as the Dude Who Got Duped yells back at the cross-dresser -- "You can dress it up, you can try to pretend / But you can't change anything in the end." A pretty dress and a push up bra don't make you a woman, you know? Now, granted, maybe if you get surgery and had certain things removed and certain things added then you sorta could change things in the end, but that's a much longer song than we have time for here. Remember, as Trent said [With_Teeth] is "twelve hard punches to the face." Plus one more, apparently, because there are 13 songs on the record. Or maybe the last one isn't really a punch. I don't know.
Then the music gets really crazy with lots of drums that sound a lot like that Guns N' Roses song from the Terminator movie, with wierd scratch computer noises and guitars groaning. I think this might supposed to be the musical sounds of sex, but I'm not sure. If it is, it's kinda disturbing, and I guess they won't put the song on the radio, but if it is meant to be the musical sounds of sex, well then it's the best darn musical sounds of transvestite sex that I've ever heard.
"Remember where you came from, remember what you are" Trent whispers in this part, sounding all creepy until he gets REALLY REALLY LOUD and SCREAMS IT! I like this part, because it gets really hard and intense, and when I'm driving in my Civic it makes the speakers really go baoooooooooohhhhhmmmmmmm. Then it's back into the chorus, and everybody's screaming "Don't you fucking know what you are!", and this time, I bet it's both the dude and the Transvestite screaming it. Because maybe during the musical sex part, the Dude realized that maybe he kinda liked it a little bit.
The end part only makes this more powerful, as it gets quiet except for one big booming bass part, and Trent's little piano riff. It sounds doomy as hell, but peaceful too. Sort of like I do after I've had sex.
So we've got a song about God having a bad day and about a spat between a Transvestite and their heterosexual lover. And people are saying [With_Teeth] is more of the same old same old! They don't know anything!!!
So here at Wearing These Chains, it's become pretty clear over the last couple weeks to both myself and the other person whose-name-I'm-not-going-to-mention-because-she's-being-shitty that though everybody is totally loving how awesome the new nine inch nails album [With_Teeth] is, some people are confused about what stuff means on the record. "Is this song about Trent's girlfriend", we've been hearing, or "I'm confused. What's in that net Trent's talking about in 'the collector'?"
In order to help, we're going to be going through the album and explain what's being talked about, so you can better enjoy your experience of listening to the new NIN record. (We also recommend downloading the official PDF with lyrics and artwork from the official website -- but you'll need your store bought CD to get it!)
But without further adieu, here's the first installment of Understanding Teeth.
all the love in the world
We all know how many problems Trent has had with God over the years -- going all the way back to "Terrible Lie". He even says "God is Dead" in the song "Heresy" from The Downward Spiral (read up on Friedrich Nietzsche if you want to know more about God being dead). You might think that this new record is the first time that Trent hasn't talked about God on one of his albums -- you'd be wrong. "All the Love in The World" is a song written about God himself!!!
The song starts with "Watching all the insects march along, seem to know just right where they belong." This is Trent describing what it's like for God up in Heaven, looking down at everybody on Earth. We're small and teeny like insects, but we seem to have a purpose. And God's jealous. "Smears of face reflecting in the chrome, hiding in the crowd I'm all alone" is yes, you guessed it, people looking at a crucifix, and seeing the reflection of God in it. But He's really just hanging out on Earth, looking at all of us people, feeling lonely because just like us he can feel lonely and sad sometimes too (Man was made in the Lord's image, remember?)
Next up God talks a little bit about how things aren't going so good in the world today -- "No one's heard a single word I've said, they don't sound as good outside my head." Given holy wars and molestation in the church, I can see why He's feeling that way. "Looks as though the past is here to stay I've become a million miles away" is obviously comparing todays situations in the Middle East (terrorists, Jerusalem, etc.) with the holy war Crusades of old (they talk about this a little in the new Orlando Bloom movie, but other than that the movie sucks. Don't go see it).
Then Trent jumps in for the chorus, looking at God and wondering "Why do you get all the love in the world?" Because seriously God -- You're having as bad a time as everybody else; why do You get all the worship and fame? Even the piano part there sounds like something you might hear at Church.
"All the jagged edges disappear, Colors all look brighter when you're near." I'm not sure what this part means, but I think it might be related to Joseph, who according to this piece of work I was in in high school had a coat made with many different colored pieces of cloth (that all look brighter when you're near, perhaps?) Of course, "All the stars afire in the sky, Sometimes I get so lonely I could", the lyrics that follow, are all about the birth of Jesus (or "the birth of Jesus" as we're told it happened). A big bright fire in the sky that they called The Star of Bethlehem lit up the night sky, and God's son was born, so God wouldn't be lonely anymore. To take a figure like God, and make Him feel the same loneliness and sadness that we all do is totally brilliant, I think, and it makes the song even more powerful.
Then everything changes, and the music becomes a big piano jammy jam, with Trent singing in a multitude of different harmonies and voices "Why do you get all the love in the world?" The music is upbeat, and hand-clapping; it sounds, in fact, like a Baptist revival. Is this a coincidence? I don't think so.
So does this mean that Trent Reznor suddenly loves God? I don't think so -- I think if anything it just means that he's saying, "Hey, God's a person too. He's going to have a hard time. We're all in the same boat. And you shouldn't make anybody better than anybody else, or think that they're better than you, because we're all the same."
That's what the song means to me -- I hope it means something to you too!