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My Life According to NIN

August 21, 2009

1992: I’m twelve years old, and I’m sneaking MTV late at night. My parents did not like me watching MTV- not because it was ‘the devil’- they aren’t religious freaks- but because it was part of the liberal media machine. Maybe it was Headbanger’s Ball…I can’t remember, but the video for ‘Wish’ came on. I can remember thinking, ‘this is different than the rest of the things I’ve ever heard…and I like it!’. It wasn’t until the following year, when I was thirteen, that my family got a CD player….and then it wasn’t until late in my year of being thirteen that I was able to somehow obtain a copy of Pretty Hate Machine and Broken. Damn Parental Advisory stickers. They came in longboxes…I wish I had kept those, but I used to cut them apart and line them up along my walls.

I carried around the insert from that PHM CD to every NIN show I ever went to in hopes of having it signed by the man himself….and that finally came true in May.

1994: I’m fourteen. I remember listening to The Downward Spiral in its entirety the day it came out….on tape….in a car, since we had to drive to a Hastings in the next town over to find it. I believe we had already heard, and been delightedly shocked by, Closer. But it was Hurt that was *rewound* and listened to again because it was so unexpected from this band. We had to listen to the words again.

My parents had moved me to a small town that I hated. I started hanging out with an older crowd, and doing things fourteen year olds shouldn’t do. I believe that when I saw the video for Closer, I was in a heavily altered state. It blew my mind.

My original life path was to be a professional dancer. I was still heavily involved in dance school at this point, but the small town factor left little options for training. I was taking lessons from a young woman who taught out of her home, and she would teach me routines to popular music. One of those was to Closer. I wish I remembered it.

1995: I’m fifteen. The Downward Spiral is still the soundtrack for my life. This is when NIN goes on tour with Bowie. I’m dying to go…all of my friends are going. I’ve been in love with Bowie because I learned about him through…The Labyrinth. None of my friends give a shit about him, though. My parents banned me from attending, so I cry as everyone I know (it seemed) leaves to caravan to San Antonio. They all take massive amounts of acid and the stories that return are insane. They are bruised and broken from the pit, they thought Bowie sucked, one didn’t come down from his trip for three days and thought he had killed someone in the pit and that the cops were looking for him. Oh, and Trent Reznor is God, they say.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, I had my first serious boyfriend. I made one of those ‘important life decisions’ with this person, set to the tune of….’Something I Can Never Have’. I remember hearing the song at that moment, and thinking, ‘shoulda gone with The Downward Spiral’. I have trouble listening to that song to this day. Perhaps this moment and song set the tone for my fucked up history of relationships.

1996: I’m sixteen…and in Texas that means one thing: Driver’s License! My dad bought me a rad car- a Nissan 240SX. Because I love loud music, I promptly installed a stereo system in there- two 10″ JL W0 woofers, thank you very much. The boys did it, why not me? I was the only girl who had that set up for miles. So I bumped along everywhere in my car. I have a vivid memory of my boyfriend at the time borrowing the car and picking me up from school, blasting Fixed. He had acquired that album and the Closer remix album for me…the remix albums had been off my radar until then. The entire high school was infiltrated with the loud sound of my car blasting the remix of ‘Gave Up’.

1997: I’m seventeen. I fell in love with David Lynch when I was thirteen and saw Twin Peaks. When I find out that Reznor is working with Lynch on the Lost Highway soundtrack, it was like everything made sense. Or not, because Lynch movies never really make sense….but you know what I mean.

1999: I’m nineteen. I’m living in Austin, in college, and in year three of an insanely abusive relationship. The day The Fragile comes out, we walk into the record store to purchase it. A fight ensues, because that’s what happened with us regarding anything, and we each had to buy our own copy of that album so that we could listen to it how we wanted to and each have one in our car. This was before we burned CDs for each other, kids. We crack one open to listen to on the way home and fight about which song to listen to first.

The Fragile is one of those albums that came along at the exact right time in my life. I’m not a delusional person (usually), but it felt like those songs were written for me. It helped me through a lot of emotional shit, and to this day I generally shed a tear to ‘The Fragile’. It’s the album I always turn people onto who only know NIN for the ‘fuck you like an animal song’.

2005: It’s my 25th birthday. I’m ecstatic because, finally, after all these years, I might have a chance to see NIN. Tickets go on sale for a small show at Stubb’s BBQ…and luckily I’m able to grab two.

It’s May, and I’m wrapping up my first year of grad school. I’ve only become marginally involved in NIN stuff online at this point- so I know nothing of how early to go or anything like that. I go to a friend’s pool party, drink all day, and then go to the venue about an hour before doors open. I’m astounded by how many people are there already. Ha! I laugh now…we ended up in an ok spot that turned into a brutal pit. Surprisingly we held our own pretty well. I remember feeling starstruck seeing *him* for the first time…though he was now all buff and stuff…but he still had the hair. I only got to see him once with long hair…god, I loved that hair. It was insanely hot…I think the only thing I heard him say was, “fuck, it’s hot”. I had an out of body experience. I cried during SICNH. I’d never felt that way in my life. It was like reliving every moment from above at once. It was like a drug. It was like a therapy session…and I had been going to a lot of those over the past couple years to get over the psychological damage from my ex. Who needs antidepressants when I can go to a NIN show?

I had always been into live music, and NIN, but it was after this show that I decided I wanted to ‘follow’ the band. While I haven’t done it as much as others, I did my best to see them every chance I got. I started getting involved in the online NIN community, and have since met tons of great people and had some of the coolest experiences attending shows all over the country. Because of this band.

2006: I had heard of this Bridge School event, and was awaiting the announcement of the lineup. I’m new to San Francisco, and was told that it’s a quintessential SF thing to do if you’re into music. Lo and behold, I see ‘Trent Reznor’ listed on the bill….and promptly freak out. The regular onsale did not give me tickets I liked, so I tried the new ticketmaster auction, went a little insane, and ended up with 7th row center tickets. Seeing him play that set is one of my most prized live music memories. You can read about it here, at my pre-HRC site.

2007: I’m twenty-seven. I’ve been really enjoying writing the blog I started in grad school to showcase my thinking for potential jobs. I’m attending tons of shows, and writing about them, so on the suggestion of my boyfriend at the time, I start up a music blog. And HardRockChick.com was born. I’d never been very confident in my writing- I always got my worst grades in English and Literature classes- but as time went on, people seemed to like what I was writing. What does this have to do with NIN? Well, sometime during this year I had a dream that I worked with Trent Reznor to write his biography much later in my life. Sure, it’s a lofty goal I think of from time to time….

So here we are in 2009. I thought I had attended my last NIN show in June, but now I get to do it over again. This time it feels right…club shows like my first one. It feels like the end of an era, like I’m about to get closure for a part of my life. I’ll never stop listening to NIN, but it’s time to move on, or as one of my NIN friends says, “it’s time to start seeing other bands”. I don’t think anyone will stop describing me to people as, ‘This is Jamie, she’s from Texas, and she’s really into NIN’.

And if you told me in 1992, at age twelve, on that fateful evening watching that Wish video on low volume in the dark, that that guy would one day sneak up on me in an airport, I would have told you to get your head checked. Life is funny.

Read my NIN related entries- including my NIN/JA tour diaries- here. I’ll be tweeting and keeping another diary for the final NIN shows that I’m attending: NINYC Bowery and Webster, and NIN/LA Henry Fonda and Wiltern….and maybe Echoplex if the stars align.


I forgot something…my Final NINventure Wishlist:

-The Only Time
-Happiness in Slavery
-I want a tambourine! It’s the only thing missing from my collection…..
-Oh, what the hell, The Perfect Drug


  1. Fantastic write up. NIN was also very influential in my teenage emotional development in a small town. I've told that story about you/Trent/NIN Access to many people.

    BTW, when I tried to access your Bridge School writeup on jamiesbrain.com it sets off my anti-virus.

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