On Adoptees, NIN, and the Vocalization of Despair

I’ve done the NAM/NAAM/NanoPoblano blog challenge for about 10 years and flunked out only once.  Over that time I’ve posted playlists of songs that I believe resonate with adopted people–or at least with me.  I’m not going to do that this year.  Nothing much changes, and I don’t recycle blogs.  But…

I am a huge fan of Nine Inch Nails.   Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral in particular explain my psychopathic life in Russia (as does Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae, if that makes any sense.)  I only connected NIN to adoption later and Hurt from Hate Machine. has been the most essential connector. I have listened to Hurt hundreds of times and found different meanings and interpretations over the years. NIN, of course, is gold. Johnny Cash’s version is a treasure, too, and speaks more about the recent crap in my crap-life rather than the entire sorry affair.  David Bowie and NIN together? Yikes!

I got my weekly “Discovery Mix ”  from  Amazon, on Monday,  which included an unknown, to me, version of Hurt by Eric Whitacre and the Eric Whitacre Singers.  What? Who?   What fresh hell is this? Some Amazonian Muzak joke? All I could think of was the Ray Coniff Singers or Lawrence Welk (after all, Mr. Welk had done One Toke Over the Line, described as a “modern spiritual.” Obviously I had never heard of Eric Whitacre.

No, this new arrangement (actually, it’s 4 years old)  is no joke. It is stunning.  It’s the entire adoptee story.  “Everyone I know goes away in the end.”- Yes. But this time built around the resounding truth that our beginning as adoptees, is our end.  “Everyone I know goes away in the beginning.”  Perhaps it’s the ethereal voices, the spare arrangement. It s the vocalization of despair. Whitacre and his singers, maintaining the integrity of the original, drill right down to the core–maybe more than Trent Reznor. It is pretty. It is hate. If you are depressed perhaps you’d better not listen.

Bear with me for a moment. Writing this I am reminded of my best friend in college,

Her ex-sister-in-law, whom I will call Tracy, was a Mormon psychologist in Los Angeles who hung out with Lenny Bruce and the Smothers Brothers. (Think about that one!)  Tracy kept diaries that she planned to give to her two sons someday. Not so they could know all of her dirty little secrets–I’m sure she had plenty– but to make it easier years later for their therapist to understand why they were so messed up. Why spend a lot of money and couch-time trying to explain it when they could just turn over the diaries?  She may have been on to something.

If you are therapy-inclined it just might be easier to play the Whitacre cover of Hurt for your shrink. It peels out like an onion.

Poke the Bear?

We Poke Back!

Day 8 NAM/NAAM/NanoPoblano

Originally posted:  Daily Bastardette,  November 8, 2022




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