I was making my way through the crazy world of Tori Amos, and I noticed something weird. She kept making Nine Inch Nails references. She name-dropped the band, their album titles, etc. Puzzled, I checked the Wikipedia page for “Under Big Pink,” and realized Trent Reznor was credited with backing vocals on the album’s sole love song. How did these two artists from opposite ends of the music world come together? Little did I know I was about to get pulled into a mostly joking conspiratorial tale of hatred, (Courtney) love, and one of the funniest celebrity duos on earth. There are multiple blogs devoted to laying out these absurd stories, but the one I found most entertaining was this article’s namesake: The Tori and Trent Conspiracy. If you have a spare hour to read this and the other blogs linked, I highly encourage you to go on that journey, but if not, I’ll hit the highlights here.
So, let’s lay out the Dramatis Personae, shall we: Trent Reznor, creator and sole member of industrial rock’s breakthrough band: Nine Inch Nails. Perpetually miserable and probably a danger to polite society. Next, Newton, NC’s own Tori Amos. Classical pianist, songwriter, godmother of 90s chick-rock, weirdest redneck hippie witch-woman alive. And finally… Courtney Love. Okay look, I’m probably one of the last seven people on earth who actually likes Love, but even I have to admit that if you listen to more than a few stories from artists who knew her, she comes off as kind of the archvillain of 90s rock. No, she did not kill Kurt Cobain. Yes, her band is better than Nirvana (Come at me). Yes, she is a female version of the villain archetype on Ru Paul’s drag race. Everyone on the same page? Too bad, the story is starting anyways.
Tori and Trent
Tori Amos and Trent Reznor report admiring one other’s music long before meeting. This is a little weird, considering Tori Amos is a progressive pop singer a la Kate Bush, and Trent Reznor is a screaming nutjob a la the Butthole Surfers (real band NIN toured with), but it’s true. There are some shared themes between them though: both are unreservedly confessional lyricists, and they both really like pretending to be Jesus. Apparently, Trent Reznor reached out to say he loved “Little Earthquakes,” and a friendship was born.
Both musicians have given numerous accounts of their relationship, some seemingly contradictory, but all accounts of their friendship are bound together by being just absolutely hilarious. Amos seems to think of herself as a surrogate mother figure for Reznor, saying that she thinks he would be a lot less angry all the time if he had some more nurturing. To quote from Spin magazine’s interview with Amos, “What Trent Really needs is a blanky and a hot chocolate with marshmallows. He doesn’t need another hole to crawl in. I think someone should give him one of those little hard hats with a miner’s light on it, so when he gets lost in a dark hole, he can find his way out.” This is obviously VERY funny if you’re familiar with any of Reznor’s work, but it pales in comparison to “The Chicken Incident,” where Amos, upon visiting Reznor in the house of the Manson murders (which Reznor had rented out because you know, of course he had), spontaneously forgot how to cook chicken. She was going to make him dinner because, in her words, “He just looks so anorexic sometimes. I just look at him and go, baby, you need my cooking honey.” But on this fateful evening, she couldn’t as much as fry a chicken. This incident was apparently so scarring to the born southerner that she called her mother on the spot to ask her why she had just ruined a dish that she had been making for 20 years. Her mother, either a witch, a master comedian, or both, told her solemnly that ever since the Folger’s coffee heiress died in the Sharon Tate house, there has been a curse against anything culinary on the premises. No wonder Trent Reznor is so angry all the time, celebrity ghosts keep ruining his food.
So, what’s this about a conspiracy, and where does Courtney Love come into all this? Well, that’s where this objectively delightful story takes a turn for the tabloids, and I don’t totally feel comfortable repeating some of the things Bizarre Love Triangles or even some actual news sites say about the matter. I’ve linked the blog’s crazed spirals of conspiracy if you want to hear them yourself. But, to summarize, Tori and Trent’s relationship falls apart, according to Reznor, because of “Some malicious meddling on the part of Courtney Love.” This is a little confusing given Love and Amos have ostensibly never met, but Courtney has maintained that she had a romantic relationship with Reznor briefly, something Reznor denies. This has led to speculation about Love’s motives, and the precise nature of Reznor and Amos’ relationship, as well as lyrical analysis of songs Amos, in her own words, had “allegedly written” about Reznor. The blog also goes the extra mile to rope in every major 90s alt-rock star in the process. It’s a wild ride, but don’t take any of it too seriously.
So… what does all this tell us, other than to not make chicken on the site of a brutal murder? Well, I guess if I must make a closing remark it would be that genre is a fickle thing, and sometimes artists from opposite worlds can have some common ground. Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls fame wrote an interesting article about the two of them if you want an introduction, and if you like one, but haven’t heard of the other, give them a listen, you might find something new.