Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Spooktober Edition” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
NINE INCH NAILS – PIGGY
(The Downward Spiral, 1994)
Nine Inch Nails’ magnum opus, The Downward spiral, is a bleak, visceral and harrowing concept album that explores some of the darkest points of human experience. Holding no punches, it is an industrial, nail-biting, jaw dropping, nut-crunching exploration into humankind’s eternal conflicts. The psychological duality of helplessness and defiance; vulnerability and bitterness; misery and rage. In all senses it is a cathartic explosion that rallies against the American mainstream, the superficiality of modern consumerism and the crippling isolation of the culturally disenfranchised.
Despite appearing on The Downward Spiral, an album chronicling the destruction of man, Piggy isn’t necessarily evil in and of itself. It’s the context in which the song was created that makes it truly unsettling.
In 1992, Trent Reznor scrapped his original plan to record the follow-up to Nine Inch Nails’ debut Pretty Hate Machine in New Orleans, decamping instead to 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles’ Benedict Canyon. It was here in 1969 that actress Sharon Tate (the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski) and four others were brutally murdered by the Charles Manson ‘family’. Although Trent suggests he only discovered the address’ grisly history after he’d decided to record there – claiming it was chosen for the suitability of the space – he subsequently read up on the incident, suggesting ‘The Tate House’ “didn’t feel terrifying as much as sad.” Despite the sense of melancholy, Trent would use it to record 1992’s Broken EP, The Downward Spiral and Marilyn Manson’s debut album, Portrait Of An American Family, which Trent produced.
The song’s title has been the subject of speculation. Former live guitarist Richard Patrick, who would later form the band Filter, has suggested he was once given the nickname ‘Piggy’, while The Beatles’ song Piggies was said to have had considerable influence on Charles Manson. Despite Trent redubbing the address ‘Le Pig’, a reference to the word that was written in blood on the front door by the murderers – and The Downward Spiral also featuring a song called March Of The Pigs – Trent denies either was directly related to what had taken place at the site of their makeshift studio.
In a sobering postscript, Trent ended up meeting Sharon Tate’s sister. She asked him about whether he thought he was exploiting her sister’s death – an encounter Trent admits caused him to breakdown, having suddenly seen things from her perspective.