In my early 20s when I was first experiencing the raw, unruly feelings that came with kink, I didn’t have a lot of words. The internet was a nascent thing, not yet commercial, and certainly not yet for porn unless I wanted to agonize over my favorite images coming up line by line on a semi-public screen. Words were easier. I could do more with words, imagine more.
Nine Inch Nails was there to give voice to a lot of what was going on in my head and also lower down. Trent Reznor gave me words like “head”, “lie”, “god” and “hole”. They sounded great when repeated and even better when he shouted them in his tortured, skinny-boy whine.
I remember getting fucked to NIN, facedown on my boyfriend’s bed. Specifically, to Wish and Last because Broken had just come out. Lyrics like come come come on you’ve gotta fill me up/ come come gotta let me inside of you were the truest things we had as well as this isn’t mean to last / this is for right now, although we didn’t know it at the time. Happiness in slavery was something to aspire to; I was still confused by it all. Trying so hard to make the pieces all fit, as Trent wrote, much, much later. It’s as true then as now.
The first time I saw NIN was in college, on an open stage up north. Two of my best friends were die-hard fans and we rented a cheesy bubble-car to make the journey. There were two important things about the Taurus. One, it had a decent sound system. Two, it could go a hundred and sixty clicks on country roads. I remember one hill, steep, with no driveways. We hurtled down, with the windows cracked and the music roaring. My hair whipped around like the pennant on the back of a hot rod. We were young and free and trying to be wild in the few, suburban ways there were at the time. I had a crush on the boy and he knew and was sorry because he was with the other girl and they were holding hands. It tore at me, even though I had a boyfriend already. I had to lose them and then myself in the mosh pit — remember those? Just one sweaty glob of humanity reaching for the lights and for our terrible god. I remember screaming when his sweat landed on me. It was my first time.
Trent was also the first man I ever felt like topping. His bare achiness made him perfect for the part, to say nothing of his pale good looks. Now I see that he’s grown into his nose and eyebrows, no longer as young and attractive but still on the knife’s edge with his lyrics, those sounds.
I saw NIN this past weekend because of a lucky comment and the generosity of a friend. The show was outstanding. At once, I was back to the pit all those years ago, back at every breakup or make-up where I raged and cried with NIN playing loud, back to every time kink or sex were better because of NIN. It also made me realize how far things have come, how amazing it is to be with Mr. Tungsten, and how I’ve gone from sub to domme to sub again since all this started, still less than totally aware of where I’m at and where things will go from here. Maybe to domme again? Who knows.
In the meantime, here is the setlist from this concert and taste of the light show. Watch the magic as Trent steps away from the mic. You can still hear each word perfectly.