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“CLOSER”: THE STRANGE STORY OF NINE INCH NAILS’ ENDURING STRIP CLUB ANTHEM

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One of the first songs I ever stripped to was Nine Inch Nails‘ “Closer.” This was in 1994, soon after the song’s release. At the time, I’d just come back from a road trip to an experimental-music festival featuring Faust, Tony Conrad, Jim O’Rourke and Keiji Haino. I was an 18-year-old with a generationally appropriate disdain for popular music and hair metal, so when the club DJ asked me what kind of music I wanted to dance to before my first stage set, I probably told him Pavement and Sonic Youth and Mudhoney in an effort to give him some accessible choices. What he decided to play for me was the Revolting Cocks‘ cover of “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” followed by “Closer.” I didn’t think too much on it being a sexy song at the time, and soon enough, I’d heard it so many times that it blended into the rest of the work soundtrack. I do remember that the chorus really did stand out, but it seemed to be in the same vein as Soundgarden‘s “Big Dumb Sex” to me — proclaiming the desire to fuck, you know, ironically.

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