Soundtrack for A Monumental Shift
There are rules for Mormon missionaries, designed to keep them focused on the work at hand, minimizing as much as possible, the effects of the ‘world’. These rules include: No dating. Staying in the same room as your companion whenever possible. Avoiding television, movies and music.
While in the Missionary Training Center (MTC), I spent the first two weeks following each rule with exactness. On a snowy night, the Monday of my final week in the MTC, I borrowed a friends portable radio, went outside and listened to music for an hour. I convinced myself that this was the final opportunity to listen to the music that I loved for the next two years.
I should have known myself better.
After three months in New Hampshire, I began to put together a collection of tapes, music I thought I couldn’t live without. Friends sent me mix tapes. I purchased used materials from local record stores (when I had companions who shared the same desires or didn’t make a fuss). All told, I came home with just over 100 tapes and a few compact discs.
At first, listening to music I previously owned satisfied. It didn’t take long to get the itch for new things. My Best friends started sending me samples of new bands, music they thought I would like. For the most part they were right. I was introduced to late 80’s, early 90’s bands like Faith No More, Soup Dragons, and the Beloved.
One day I received a tape of Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails (thanks, Reynolds). I could not get enough of it. I think I played it thrice daily, sometimes more. I shared it with like minded missionaries. We played it in the car on the way to meetings, sitting around the apartment, wherever and whenever we could. It finally gave up the ghost two months before I came home.
It was a long time before any new music from NIN. The Broken EP filled the void, hinting at an entirely new sound. I was still craving more.
Music is often associated with memory and moments. When I was going through my crisis of faith, music helped me a great deal. The darker the theme, the better. Because of that, Nine Inch Nails second full length record, The Downward Spiral, had a huge impact on me.
From the opening track, Mr Self Destruct, the sound was heavier, darker, more powerful (to me) than anything previously released.
Many of the songs dealt with anger and frustration, often at God, (which I could easily relate to at the time) or difficult relationships. I could read myself into almost every song, every lyric. At the time, I was confused, self destructive, searching for meaning, reasons for all sorts of things. Often I just needed to scream these songs (in the house, while driving) to make myself feel better. The darkness of the record never left me in a dark place. In fact, it often lifted me out of them.
This music is not for everyone and I often wonder if it would mean as much to me if I had encountered it later in life. Regardless, I am thankful for it and thankful to the friend who introduced me to them in the first place.
Some other songs off the record that had impact for me-