Track 13: The Downward Spiral
"The Downward Spiral" is a song about suicide by gun. The lyrics start with "He couldn't believe how easy it was: he put the gun to his face. Bang! So much blood for such a tiny little hole. Problems do have solutions, you know. A lifetime of fucking things up fixed with one determined flash."
It is possibly the most depressing song of all time.
The solution that the protagonist of "The Downward Spiral" finds in this song also happens to be point-by-point the climax of the film, when Jack realizes that the only way to stop Tyler for good was to shoot himself in the head.
Track 14: Hurt
Finally, we come to "Hurt," which summarizes what has happened throughout the album. The lyrics also reflect the main plot points and twists of Fight Club, most notably in the phrase, "I hurt myself today to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real."
Jack's journey was a process of creating an entirely believable separate self that he could tag along behind and emulate. He hurt himself in the first fight with Tyler, and the reason he did it was to see if he still could feel. In the same fashion the first line of the pre-chorus says, "What have I become? My sweetest friend." Jack literally was his own best friend.
Furthermore, the chorus of "You could have it all: my empire of dirt. I will let you down, I will make you hurt." Is represented in the reunion of Jack and Marla at the end of the film. Project Mayhem was the "empire of dirt" that the hero had built, only to then leave behind in an effort to save himself (if possible).
Bonus Track: Only
It seems unlikely that Reznor and Fincher are unaware of the connections between Fight Club and The Downward Spiral -- but they've kept the first two rules of fight club, more or less, and haven't talked about it. However, the connection is strongly hinted at in the only Nine Inch Nails video directed by David Fincher: 2005's "Only." This song was most likely Reznor's nod to his influence in Fight Club, which he decided to immortalize by collaborating with Fincher and creating a music video that seems to be set in Jack's office.
There's one other strong reference in the NIN catalogue: the single "Copy of a." The opening lyrics to that song are "I am just a copy of a copy of a copy." Not only are these lyrics very similar to a line from the first ten minutes of Fight Club, they also depict a song that is a copy of the movie, which was a copy of the book, which was a copy of The Downward Spiral.
This is the first article by Kevin Mooseles, who loves movies, t.v. shows, and music; as well as violating the first two rules of fight club. Kevin hopes that Chuck Palahnuik writes the graphic novel sequel to "Fight Club" (due out next summer) while listening to "Hesitation Marks" on repeat, because that would be fitting.