A Warm Place

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"A Warm Place"
Album: The Downward Spiral
Length: 3:22
Tempo: {{{BPM}}} BPM
Versions: A Warm Place
A Warm Place (Instrumental)
A Warm Place (Natural Born Killers edit)
A Warm Place (Illum Tangendo)
Live: Wave Goodbye Tour

"A Warm Place" is the tenth track on The Downward Spiral.


"A Warm Place" can be regarded as the turning point of the album. It is the only instrumental, discounting the practically inaudible spoken words at the beginning. Its tranquil and soothing nature highly contrasts with the other tracks on the album, which all contain loud and angry parts.

The previous track, "Big Man With A Gun," is arguably the most chaotic on the album. The narrator asserts his power and domination over samples of tortured screams. The last instance of "nothing can stop me now" in the album is shouted, and this is perhaps his last straw (no pun intended). At just over a minute and a half, "Big Man With A Gun" suddenly collapses, and "A Warm Place" starts immediately.

The narrator has begun a drastic change in point of view. He experiences a moment of clarity to truly consider his situation in a way unhindered by intoxicants, or perhaps enhanced by them. Backed by the melancholy piano tune, he realizes who he has become and what he has done. He had known subconsciously before, and he had voiced the varying attributes (the title of "The Becoming" being the most obvious example), but he had not yet come to grips with the real consequences of his character and actions, which differ from the extreme views he had expressed previously. "Warm" contrasts with the cold, indifferent quality of machines, which are sampled throughout the album. This "warm place" relates to the womb or to the rise in body temperature during intercourse, where life begins.

With the breathing straw sounds at the end of "A Warm Place," it segues into the next song, "Eraser," which begins as an instrumental. The straw sounds possess a sort of nasty texture, designating a change in tone. The heavy percussion beats permeate throughout: this is the rhythm required by his train of thought. As more sound layers are added, the narrator becomes increasingly disturbed by what he had realized in "A Warm Place". He begins an inner-battle on the only consequences that matter now: what he should do next. He denies certain arguments and favours others, evident by the periodic addition of more layers of mocking guitars. Briefly, the instrumental calms down a bit, and he lists the obvious in minimalistic terms ("[verb] me... [verb] you"). At the end, he has chosen a strongly desire for an end to the dilemma ("kill me"). A remix of "Eraser" being called "Eraser (denial; realization)" could be evidence of this.

"A Warm Place" and "Eraser" may be considered two acts to one song, with the former being critical and necessary for the latter.

"Crystal Japan" resemblance

Trent Reznor has been accused of ripping off the theme of "A Warm Place" from David Bowie's 1980 single "Crystal Japan". He did state that Bowie's album Low (1977) had the biggest influence in the making of The Downward Spiral,[1] though Low does not contain "Crystal Japan." Some have claimed that what is heard is deceiving; that from a musical theory point of view, there exist significant differences between the structures of the two melodies.

Song Credits






A Warm Place

This version is on both The Downward Spiral and Closure. Consisting solely of synthesizer chords and melodies, it remains quiet, tranquil, and reflective throughout. Its structure is very simple, containing only few different chord progressions and a couple of different melody lines. Beginning directly after the sudden ending of "Big Man With A Gun," the piece ends by crossfading with the opening samples of "Eraser."

A Warm Place (Instrumental)

Released by Reznor via his remix.nin.com account, this version is identical to the album version, except it does not contain the bits of "Eraser" fading in at the end.

A Warm Place (Natural Born Killers edit)

This version is essentially the same as the album version, but is shorter. Also, the straw sounds that lead into "Eraser" have been edited out. In the movie itself, the song served as a backdrop to the showdown between Mickey Knox and Jack Scagnetti after the first part of the prison riot scene.

A Warm Place (Illum Tangendo)

This is the original version of the song, but features new vocals by Stella Katsoudas (aka Stella Soleil), the lead singer and main force behind Sister Soleil, added on top. The song was put together in 1999 for the soundtrack to the film Stigmata but was not included, allegedly due to a quarrel between Reznor and Billy Corgan, who produced the soundtrack. Previously, the song had never been officially released, although Katsoudas has used it in some ballet performances, causing the track to subsequently surface on torrent websites. More recently, the track has been uploaded to remix.nin.com by Reznor and is available for download. Its title means "touching him" in Latin. The added lyrics are:

    Water rolls down the skin like tiny beads 
    Eyes close so that they might see 
    Illum tangendo (touching him) 
    This sun is a star in someone else's sky 
    Illum tangendo (touching him)
    This moon is making someone cry 
    Illum tangendo (touching him)


"A Warm Place" made its live debut on August 23, 2009, at Webster Hall in New York City.


A barely audible message is heard layered under the track in the very beginning of the song (repeating approximately 6 times):

    The best thing about life
    Is knowing you put it together

Previous track - "Big Man With A Gun" Track 10 from The Downward Spiral Next track - "Eraser"