La Mer

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"La Mer"
Album: The Fragile (Left)
Length: 4:37
Tempo: 93 BPM
Versions: La Mer
La Mer (Alternate Version)
La Mer (Version)
La Mer (And All That Could Have Been)—DVD/VHS
Live: Fragility through NIN 2013 Festival Tour
Cold And Black And Infinite Tour

"La Mer" is the eleventh track from the Left disc of The Fragile. Its main melodic elements and bassline are taken in a different direction with "Into The Void." Trent Reznor has stated that "Adrift And At Peace" is the conclusion to "La Mer." (Source)

The lyrics are in Creole French. It is one of the many NIN songs that includes the phrase "Nothing Can Stop Me Now," and one of the few to include a vocalist other than Reznor. In addition, it was the first instrumental written for The Fragile. [1]

The song itself was conceived during a very dark period in Reznor's life. When on stage in 2009 he disclosed that he had rented a house at the time on an ocean with the external intent to write some music, but in reality had contemplated suicide there. This song was the only song to come out of that time and place. He still feels strange playing it live because it serves as a reminder of this period.


It can be argued that the song is heavily infuenced by the Debussy piece of the same name. Both songs build up to create a sonic atmosphere, and both are (obviously) titled the same.

When asked about any classical composers who have inspired him, Trent said in a Yahoo! Chat in December 1999:

"Debussey. I was sitting in Big Sur, losing my mind. His contribution was that you need to be regimented, with whatever you decide to do. When I was sitting there, Debussey and I had a mind meld for a second. I felt the need to plagiarize the title, 'La Mer'. He revolutionized the Mozart bullshit world of everything was rigid and stabilized."

Song Credits

  • Vocals: Denise Milfort
  • Drums: Bill Rieflin
  • Cello: Willie





La Mer

This is the original album version. It begins with piano chords accompanied by standup bass and is then accentuated by drums playing a jazz rhythm and e-bow guitar. This is one of the few songs by Nine Inch Nails that is played with almost all acoustic instruments. It consists of a 3/4 time signature superimposed over a 4/4 time signature. Its piano theme is also used at the end of "We're in This Together."

On The Fragile vinyl and 2017 DE download, the introductory piano chords and standup bass are repeated one extra time before the solo begins over top, and the ending denouement is slightly longer, featuring more spoken samples. Because of this, the transition into "The Great Below" is also slightly different than the original CD version.

La Mer (Alternate Version)

Running Time: 4:54

Released on The Fragile: Deviations 1. Also known as "La Mer" (Alt) when it was originally released on Apple Music as part of The Fragile Instrumental, where it appeared to be marred with brief noise during the intro, potentially caused by a poor DAT transfer. This is a significantly different mix of the album arrangement, with a very different drum sound and more pronounced standup bass. The ending does not fade out or crossfade with "The Great Below."

La Mer (Version)

Running Time: 5:16

An exclusive from The Fragile era, this remix by Jerome Dillon and Keith Hillebrandt features much more percussion-oriented loops, using atmospheric and base elements from the original. The track was previously available for download at the website.

La Mer (And All That Could Have Been)

This live version does not feature the speech samples, backs the piano line with bass synth, and Robin Finck plays the introductory melody normally played on piano with a Martin Backpacker acoustic guitar.


"La Mer" made its live debut on November 14, 1999. On And All That Could Have Been, it is performed live against the backdrop of three visual screens that display images of the sea. Towards the end of the song, Reznor presses against the screen on the center and moves his hands across the panel, as the blurry image of a woman is revealed before the screen fades to black. The imagery was provided by Bill Viola. During the Fragility v2.0 tour, the main piano melody was played on a Martin Backpacker mini acoustic guitar.

On the With Teeth: Summer Amphitheater Tour and Performance 2007, Reznor played a piano-only version of "La Mer," including an initial improvisation, before playing "Into the Void," and it is sometimes confused with "Adrift And At Peace." The band began playing "La Mer" in full again on the Wave Goodbye Tour.

During the Cold And Black And Infinite Tour, the main piano melody was played on xylophone. On December 14, 2018, Mike Garson joined the band to perform the song live.


Creole French

   Et quand le jour arrivé
   Map touné le ciel
   Et map touné la mer
   Et la mer va embrassé moi
   Et délivré moi lakay
   An rien peut arrêter moi konin la

French equivalent :

   Et quand le jour arrivera
   Je retournerai au ciel
   Et je retournerai à la mer
   Et la mer va m'embrasser
   Et me délivrer chez moi
   Rien ne peut m'arrêter maintenant

English Translation

    And when the day arrives
    I'll become the sky
    And I'll become the sea
    And the sea will come to kiss me
    For I am going
    Nothing can stop me now

There is an alternate, more literal translation of the lyrics:

    And when the day arrives
    I'll return to the sky
    And I'll return to the sea
    And the sea will embrace me
    And deliver me home
    Nothing can stop me now

External Links

Previous track - "No, You Don't" Track 11 from The Fragile Left (CD), Side C (Vinyl) Next track - "The Great Below"
This page was last modified on 25 February 2020, at 14:55. This page has been accessed 341,961 times.