The Wretched

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"The Wretched"
Album: The Fragile (Left)
Length: 5:25
Tempo: 140 BPM
Versions: The Wretched
The Wretched (Instrumental)
The Wretched (Version)
The Wretched (And All That Could Have Been)
Live: Fragility through present

"The Wretched" is the fourth track on the Left disc of The Fragile.

The bridge of the song contains a sample of radio interference often confused with whispered lyrics. It can be heard more clearly in Keith Hillebrandt's remix of the song on Things Falling Apart.[1]

Screenshot of Nord Modular effects patch setup used in "The Wretched" published on during The Fragile era.






The Wretched

This is the original album version. Characterized by a simple drum machine loop and a low-octave piano melody backed by deep atmospheric synthesizers, the verses feature Trent Reznor spitting out the vocals, soon joined by a distorted guitar melody. The repeated lyric, "It didn't turn out the way you wanted it to, did it?" builds into the chorus, where a new, quickly ascending guitar riff and a different drum patch and loop accompany the shouted vocals. New atmospheric loops join the re-entry of the verse motifs, which lead into a repetition of the chorus. The song's bridge consists of trading distorted guitar riffs above the verse drum patch and atmosphere, which give way to a simple melody. The chorus soon returns with a wah guitar solo on top, bring in the return of the chorus vocals, this time with Reznor interjecting between repetitions of "now, you know/this is what it feels like." After the final repetition, the verse atmospheres and drum loop return for a fading denouement and return of the bridge melody.

The vinyl edition of The Fragile has an extended ending, playing out much like it does live on And All That Could Have Been: instead of the beat fading out under the melody as on the CD, it repeats four times and then stops, allowing the melody to repeat once more.

The Wretched (Instrumental)

Running Time: 6:00

Released exclusively through Apple Music as part of The Fragile Instrumental and later on The Fragile: Deviations 1. Opening with the acoustic guitar riff featured prominently in the Things Falling Apart remix, the song proper retains the album arrangement, though its ending is the full version previously heard on the vinyl. The bridge featuring the plucked melody is also extended by one repetition of the distorted guitar phrase.

The Wretched (Version)

Running Time: 5:52

This remix starts with a bass drone and rhythmic loops that build to a loud, drum-heavy second verse. It eventually breaks down to acoustic guitar playing the chorus riff and the lyrics "Now you know/This is what it feels like" before building again towards the end, which drops back to the elements used in the intro along with what appears to be a live version of the end of the song from a concert in the distance.

Song Credits

  • Maniputation: Keith Hillebrandt

The Wretched (And All That Could Have Been)

This live version is performed very similarly to the album version, with Jerome Dillon playing a tom-based beat on top of the electronic loop. During the bridge, Reznor whispers the lines "There is a place / In the back of my mind / Where I used to try."


"The Wretched" made its live debut at the first show of the Fragility v1.0 tour, and has been played at the majority of shows since.

During the Tension 2013 Tour, this song featured backing vocals by Lisa Fischer and Sharlotte Gibson.


    Just a reflection
    Just a glimpse
    Just a little reminder
    Of all the what abouts
    And all the might have
    Could have beens
    Another day
    Some other way
    But not another reason to continue
    And now you're one of us
    The Wretched
    The hopes and prays
    The better days
    The far aways
    Forget it
    It didn't turn out the way you wanted it to
    It didn't turn out the way you wanted it, did it?
    It didn't turn out the way you wanted it to
    It didn't turn out the way you wanted it, did it?
    Now you know
    This is what it feels like
    Now you know
    This is what it feels like
    The clouds will part
    And the sky cracks open
    And God Himself
    Will reach His fucking arm through
    Just to push you down
    Just to hold you down
    Stuck in this hole
    With the shit and the piss
    And it's hard to believe
    It could come down to this
    Back at the beginning
    And in the end
    We still pretend
    The time we spend
    Not knowing when
    You're finally free
    And you could be
    But it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to
    It didn't turn out quite the way that you wanted it
    Now you know
    This is what it feels like
    Now you know
    This is what it feels like
    You can try to stop it but it keeps on coming
    You can try to stop it but
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This page was last modified on 21 October 2019, at 20:55. This page has been accessed 124,666 times.