"The Collector" is the third track on the 2005 release With Teeth.
Lyrically, the song seems to address Trent Reznor's insecurities leading up to writing the With Teeth album in regards to him questioning if he would ever write music again, or be able to write sober. In a fan interview, Reznor stated that this was initially his favourite song on the record.
This is the original album version. It is characterized by a very odd time signature, with the verses in a 3/4-3/4-3/4-4/4 pattern and the chorus in a 4/4-4/4-6/4 pattern. Opening with Dave Grohl's live drumming and soon joined by the verse bassline, Reznor's vocal delivery is coarse and loud through the verses. Abrasive guitars enter for the yelled choruses, playing a fast rhythm in 16th notes. The repeated line "swallow it all" accompanied only by loud, intense drumming forms a bridge from chorus back to the second verse, then from the second chorus to the final verse, which builds upon the drumming and bassline with the mantra "every last one" and chromatic piano improvisation. The introductory percussion loop of "The Hand That Feeds" begins immediately beneath the decay of the final drum and cymbal hits of this song.
The Collector (Instrumental)
Released exclusively through Apple Music.
The Collector (Live At Rehearsals)
This video appears as additional footage on Beside You In Time. It is set similar to "The Hand That Feeds" video, with Reznor donning a white dress shirt and everyone else wearing dark clothing.
"The Collector" was played live primarily on the Live: With Teeth tour, becoming a rarity in the setlist as the tour went on. It was played once on the Lights In The Sky Tour and several times on the Wave Goodbye Tour. Several of these live versions featured the additional lyrics printed in the With Teeth PDF booklet.
I pick things up I am a collector And things, well things They tend to accumulate I have this net It drags behind me And it picks up feelings For me to feed upon There are times, plenty of times I wish I could let it go But they start to breathe And they start to grow inside me There are times, plenty of times I wish I could let it go But they start to make me think Things I don't want to know I'm trying to fit it all inside I'm trying to open my mouth wide I'm trying not to choke and Swallow it all Swallow it all Swallow it all Swallow it all I am the plague I am the swarm All your hurt sticks on me And I keep it warm They make me stay They won't let me leave There are so God damned many of them It gets hard to breathe I'm trying to fit it all inside I'm trying to open my mouth wide I'm trying not to choke inside I am a good boy and Will swallow it all Swallow it all Swallow it all Swallow it all Every last one Every last one Every last one Every last one
Additional lyrics printed in the With Teeth PDF booklet, but not appearing in the song itself (though they have occasionally been sung live).
Are you listening? Yes I am building Something bigger than the world Something terrible With all of this