Noticed in November 2 :: Discipline

Again, inspired by my sister, I ‘m taking a season to write about songs that I am “noticing”. Here’s the Spotify list of the songs (in development).

I think it’s one of the great truths of music and art that the best songs are generally written by folks who are either running firmly towards God or firmly away from God.

(Bono said that, by the way, so you know it has to be true.)

I don’t know really know Trent Reznor, but at the very least he (a) has the reputation of running away from God, and (b) writes some awesome, forceful and violent songs.

Most of them are very much NSFW; police yourselves.

I wrote that I was pretty much in the pit on Nov 3, and on Nov 4 I woke up still fighting a bit of shame and sadness.

But then I got mad.

I’m not proud of my temper; most of the time it expresses itself in hurtful and even embarrassing ways. Nevertheless, it’s there. It’s a part of me.

And on November 4 I decided to get pissed off at the things that drug me into that pit.

Whoever Reznor really is, he writes pretty profoundly about (what I consider to be) spirituality and even health. He kicked a pretty rough heroin addiction back around 2005. Since then he’s created some pretty insightful songs about some of the emotional and psychological demons that haunt some of us.

The chorus of “Discipline” is,

“I need your discipline // I need your help
I need your discipline // I know that once I stop I cannot stop myself…”

Doesn’t get any more real than that.

I cannot and will not vouch for all of Nine Inch Nails’ work, but there are sometimes that I need to hear something that is loud, intelligently aggressive, and also grooving. 

So as I drove around central Florida (still in Orlando for class), I just blasted NIN’s music and allowed some of my anger and frustration to fuel my crawl out of the depths.

Johnny Rotten once sang (well, sort of, Rotten never really “sings”), “Anger is an energy.”

Sometimes our anger can help us fight against the “dark stuff” in our lives.




With Teeth

I am a musician.

I am a Christian.

(Even a sort-of “evangelical one.”)

I play “contemporary worship” music.



All that said, I will only quote Bono this one time: “Great music is written by people who are either running toward or away from God.”



This may or may not be widely known, but I’m a Nine Inch Nails fan; I’ve even used them in a sermon.

(If you don’t know who they are, please go read something about them or Trent Reznor before you go mindlessly buy a record; it’s really jarring, even unsettling music.)

Ultimately, I don’t know if Trent Reznor is running to God or running away from Him, or running at all, but here’s what I know…

… Reznor is honest; brutally so.

I suppose the reason I gravitate to Trent Reznor is this honesty. He is simply unafraid to say things that make us cringe and squirm.

In 2005 they released the record With Teeth. Aside from the concert film And All That Could Have Been, this was my first in depth exposure to what they did. I’d read plenty about the infamous Downward Spiral sessions, and had frankly shied away, but something grabbed me about the first single, “The Hand That Feeds.”

The record was recorded just after Reznor decided to get sober, and the record reflects a lot of his experience. Similarly, I listened to this record constantly from 2005-2007, when I was going through some particularly difficult times in my life.

The title track in particular grabbed me. What I hear is a description, not just of heroin, but of anything that can take over your life and go from being an indulgence to a habit to an addiction.

I heard Reznor preaching a stronger word than I’d heard from a preacher about the dangers of addiction—to alcohol, porn, drugs, people. He laid it out square, and the music just brought it home.

Listening to it recently, I was struck again with the power of addiction. I’ve been battling my own demons recently, and now I hear the song from a new place; as I’ve been able to get some perspective on life, I can actually recognize the power of addiction even more clearly in the lyric.

It’s death.

It wants to kill you; if not physically, at least spiritually.

I can’t write like Trent Reznor, but I can just speak plainly for a moment.

If you are struggling with something, and can’t stop, you need to take it seriously. 

Get help.

The entire nature of this thing is that you can’t get on top of it. You need to get help.

And get this as well: it (whatever “it” is for you) wants to destroy you. 

It DOES have teeth, and it wants to gnaw your life down to the bone. 

It wants to burn it all down. 


You have to stop.

Ask for help and start the work.

This isn’t nearly as subtle as the studio track, but it gets the point across:

“With Teeth”

She comes along
She gets inside
She makes you better than anything you’ve tried
It’s in her kiss
The blackest sea
And it runs deeper than you
Dare to dream it could be

With teeth …

Wave goodbye
To what you were
The rules have changed
The lines begin to blur
She makes you hard
It comes on strong
You finally found
The place where you belong

With teeth …

I cannot go through this again …

With teeth …

She will not let you go
Keeps holding on
She will not let you go
Keeps holding on
This time, I’m not coming back
She will not let you go
This time, I’m not coming back
She will not let you go