There are so many musicians out there who have tremendous creative energy. These people are usually involved in multiple projects and seem to spit out song after song as if it’s no trouble at all. And the quality is always outstanding! Because their projects are so varied, there’s also something in there for everyone to enjoy. A couple years ago, I had listened to maybe two or three of Trent Reznor’s songs through the band Nine Inch Nails. I wasn’t a huge fan. Then… I discovered the Ghosts album. And since then, Reznor has been one of my go to musicians when I’m looking for inspiration on a writing project.
The man is so multi-talented that it almost doesn’t seem possible that one person could have come up with all of these diverse pieces! So many different emotions are present in these songs that going through Reznor’s music is like opening up a grab-bag. You reach in and pull something out and there’s always something in there that you don’t expect to find. I love it! So today, I’ve chosen 8 songs to share with you!
And All That Could Have Been: Nine Inch Nails – Post apocalyptic atmosphere music. The first thing I get an image of when I hear this song is something out of ‘The Walking Dead’. I see smoke rising from cities, car horns blaring across the open sky which is tinged orange to signal the end of a day. This works as the theme for a solitary character or a character who is banded with others he doesn’t really know. All of the characters are leaving behind everything they have ever known and stepping into a realm that is horrible and so surreal. The melody in the background is very gripping and gritty. The vocals add another layer of hopelessness to it. Either instrumental or with vocals, this song is very inspirational for any dysotopian fiction one might be writing or reading.
The Day The World Went Away (Still): Nine Inch Nails – There is a definite eeriness to this track. The beginning melody with the piano is like a reminder of everyday things that this character has taken for granted day by day. When Trent’s voice kicks in, the character is just realizing that there is very little time left for him to view the world with fresh eyes, and to appreciate the flowers in the garden out front, the color of the autumn leaves, the smell of the ocean… So he sets out to spend a day doing this. The song to me has an uplifting note despite the sad beginning. When a character changes their tune and begins to see things through someone else’s eyes, it’s a pretty seminal moment.
Ghosts 36: Nine Inch Nails – This is one of my favorites off of the Ghosts Albums. It’s something about the piano that makes me focus on a particular scene. It’s a rainy day and there is a white house in a small suburb. Inside is one person, either a man or a woman, either packing or unpacking. If they are packing, they have to choose what will go with them and what will be left behind. If unpacking, they are selecting certain things out of the box and leaving others inside. Certain items trigger old memories both good and bad. While this piece is short, it possesses so much emotion. The Ghost’s Albums have triggered some amazing inspiration in the past when I’ve listened to them. I’ve mentioned 13 on another earlier post and there are still others that blow me away with their simple but haunting tunes.
Echoplex: Nine Inch Nails– Here we have a character who isn’t going to take orders from anyone anymore. He’s resolved to do something about it. The beat of this song goes along with his determination to make things end the way they are. And the repeating line “My voice just echos off these walls” is about how his opinion has never been considered in the past. This is definitely a character with some anger as well as a new carelessness. He feels that he cared too much in the past and that since it was taken for granted, he needn’t bother to care as much now. I definitely have use for this piece later in The Monstrum Chronicles…
Something I Can Never Have: Nine Inch Nails – The first time I heard this song, it was the Flyleaf cover. I enjoyed it but when I heard the original version, there was just no comparison. Trent’s voice is definitely more fitting for this and the quieter tone works better than the hard slamming guitar of Flyleaf’s version. As I’ve worked on Memento Mori, I’ve found that this song has become the main theme for one of the main characters, Vera, in the book. Vera is a very troubled individual who is looking to start her life over after making a handful of terrible mistakes… and that’s all I’ll say for now!
Immigrant Song: Karen O, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross – More than likely, if you’ve seen the new “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” movie, you heard this rendition of the classic Led Zeppelin song. Karen O’s voice is the perfect addition to this thumping, high-adrenaline beat, renewed by Reznor and Ross. This music accompanies a very important scene if you are writing with it. It’s the point where the character discovers their own power, their own strength. It’s more empowering if the character previously had little self-esteem and was always seen as weak in earlier scenes.
The Gentle Hum of Anxiety: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Anxiety building. The pressure caving in on this individual who is trying to make everything work. This works very well when you have a character who feels as though things have taken a sudden turn for the worst. I see this working very well for anyone who has been in a position of power, anyone who is suddenly without that influence and is slowly cracking at the seams trying to hold things together. I just see this person standing in front of the mirror in a public restroom, splashing their face with water and telling themselves, to “get a grip.” This person is hard on themselves and won’t allow themselves a break even if they know they need one.
Hidden In the Snow: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – I like the hollowness of the notes in this song. It speaks of a character who is entering a place, whether it be a house, a town, or a commercial building that hasn’t had anyone inside of it in a very long time. There is something inside that this character must find in order to help them solve a puzzle. While there is a definite curiosity in this song, there’s also a bit of fearfulness and anxiety. This place might be hazardous and the character enters it, not really knowing what they are going to find.
Next week on Inspiration Through Music, I’ll be waltzing back into classical music as I choose some of Antonin Dvorak’s gorgeous pieces! Stay tuned!
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