The Downward Spiral #5- “I Do Not Want This,” “Big Man With A Gun,” and “A Warm Place”

This is the fifth post of The Downward Spiral Nine Inch Nails Series. If you need to catch up or review: First, Second, Third, Fourth posts.

#8 As discussed in previous posts, the character in the album is slowly spiraling down into isolation, depression, psychosis, and self-hatred. In “I Do Not Want This,” he tries to reach out to people for help (“and oh so sick I am… and maybe this is a cry for help”). However, this fails–perhaps in part because the people did not know how to help him but mostly because he was unwilling to accept the help. He states, “you don’t know just how I feel” and “don’t tell me that you care,” demonstrating that he doesn’t believe anything or anyone can help him. This is one of the worst feelings in the world: believing that no one can or wants to help you. You feel completely alone and hate your self for it. Trent, with his sudden transition from dulcetly singing to screaming in rage, does an amazing job portraying both the characters extreme sadness and anger. That is one thing that makes Trent in my mind an utter genius–his ability to create and perform songs in a way that makes the listener feel those emotions. Oh, and the music between 3-4:30 is incredible. I don’t even know how Trent made or came up with those sounds but they are novel, almost grating, but beautiful.

#9″Big Man With A Gun” is really the only song I do not like on this album so I won’t spend too much time on it. Basically how I interpret it is the character has gotten to the point where he decides to try to hurt someone, out of madness or to feel something. It is pure anger and insanity.

#10 Finally, after nine hard, industrial, and frensied songs, The Downward Spiral album includes the tranquil “A Warm Place.” This song is so hauntingly beautiful and serene that I have listened to in on repeat to fall asleep on many occasions. But how does it fit into the album? With ease. After “Big Man With A Gun,” probably the most loud, abrasive song on the album, comes “A Warm Place” not only to bring peace to troubled listeners but to demonstrate the human aspects of the character that is still intact. I always think about it like this:

You are battling some internal battle (depression, eating disorder, bipolar etc) and want a break from it all. It becomes too much. So you find a place where you are safe, a place where you can escape from the inside of your mind. This only lasts for a fleeing time until the internal voice again grabs hold of you. And Trent, knowing this, includes at the end of this song a whispering of the harsh industrial sounds that herald the ending of the serene and the return of the turbulent.

NB. The words spoken very softly at the beginning are “The best thing about life is knowing you put it together,” one of my favorite quotes.

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Filed under Industrial, NIN, The Downward Spiral, Trent Reznor

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