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Trent Reznor Recalls How David Bowie Helped Him Get Sober

Stashed in: Music Videos!, Music, Rolling Stone!, Music Videos, David Bowie

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We found out a way to do the show that made sense, where it all felt like one experience. We'd play stripped down, then David would come out and he'd do "Subterraneans" with us, and then his band would come out and we'd play together, then my band would leave. One of the greatest moments of my life was standing onstage next to David Bowie while he sang "Hurt" with me. I was outside of myself, thinking, "I'm standing onstage next to the most important influence I've ever had, and he's singing a song I wrote in my bedroom." It was just an awesome moment.


On that tour, I was a mess, quite honestly. This was the peak of Nine Inch Nails' newfound rocket ship of fame. It distorted my personality and became overwhelming: to deal with having everyone treat you different, to going from not being able to afford a gas bill to show up to arenas full of people, who kind of think they know you. The line starts to blur between the guy onstage and the person you used to be. My way of dealing with life was to numb myself with drugs and alcohol, because it made me feel better and more equipped to deal with everything. My career was skyrocketing, but the scaffolding that was holding me up as a person was starting to collapse. I wasn't fully aware of how bad it was getting, but I knew, in my heart, that I was on an unsustainable, reckless, self-destructive path.

When I met David, he had been through that. And he was content. He was at peace with himself, with an incredible wife, clearly in love. There were a number of times where the two of us were alone, and he said some things that weren't scolding, but pieces of wisdom that stuck with me: "You know, there is a better way here, and it doesn't have to end in despair or in death, in the bottom."

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