30 Albums, 30 Stories: The Downward Spiral

Nine-Inch-Nails-The-Downward-SpiralThis November, I’m telling 30 stories about 30 albums. The albums on this list are not necessarily my favorite albums, but they are the ones that are instantly associated with a time and place. All of these albums represent a chapter of my life. This is the story of those albums, and by extension, the story of me, presented mostly chronologically.

Album 19: The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails.

The name of this album perfectly fits that time in my life, because that’s exactly what it was. Though, this wasn’t my downward spiral; it was domestic violence monster’s and I was caught in it.

We had moved from the shitty apartment on the west side of Detroit to a high-rise downtown. It was on the sixteenth floor and had a panoramic view. I could see all of Detroit and way into the suburbs from my window. My favorite was watching thunderstorms way in the distance make their slow, inexorable way to me. I could watch the fireworks over Tiger’s Stadium from my bed.

Monster’s sixteen year old sister shot herself in the head with a shotgun in her family’s home. Monster’s mother died in childbirth with his sister. He always blamed her for their mother’s death, as if she had a choice in the matter. The fact that his sister threw her life away, a life that his mother had sacrificed her own for, infuriated him. He was never really sober after that. The funeral was still the saddest event I’ve ever attended, even sadder than the memorial for the love of my life.

He spent the bulk of his time locked in his room with the windows wide open, even in winter, drinking himself silly and writing terrible poetry. It was the beginning of the end of any sort of sanity he had, but at that point, he essentially left me alone, so I left him alone. I went about my life as usual only checking on him from time to time. We were essentially like strangers. If only it had stayed that way.

I could hear this album on constant repeat coming from his lair. It became a reminder of that time and I couldn’t listen to this album for many, many years. I only reconnected with it a few years ago when I started taking the music back from the monsters.

It’s strange how so much of it relates to what I was going through then, even more than monster related to it. I had confronted my past as much as I was able to at that point and I was busy burying it again. I was becoming numb to everything including monster and the concept of continuing to live. For at least the second period in my life, I did not care whether I lived or died, and I wouldn’t for many years.

Favorite track:

This song completely encapsulates my state of mind at that time.

the me that you know used to have feelings
but the blood has stopped pumping and he’s left to decay
the me that you know is now made up of wires
and even when I’m right with you I’m so far away

it won’t give up it wants me dead
goddamn this noise inside my head