Down In It (song)

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"Down In It"
Album: Pretty Hate Machine
Length: 3:46
Tempo: 104 BPM
Versions: Down In It
Down In It (Skin)
Down In It (Shred)
Down In It (Singe)
Down In It (Demo)
Down In It (Demo III)
Down In It (Demo IV)
Down In It (Purest Feeling)
Down In It (Closure)
Live: VIVIsectVI Tour through Wave Goodbye Tour

"Down In It" was the first single for the 1989 album Pretty Hate Machine and the third track on the disc. It has been stated by Trent Reznor that this song is the first he ever wrote and is a rare treat to hear live. Following the "Down In It" single release, a music video was made.

"Kinda I Want To" specifically uses this song's beat and drum patch in its bridge, while "That's What I Get" and "The Only Time" both use its recognizable melodic synth voice.


In a 1994 radio broadcast biography of Reznor, it was said that "Down In It" was inspired by a relationship that had then recently ended for him with a woman named Krissy.

Reznor has openly admitted that this song "was a total rip-off of 'Dig It' by Skinny Puppy."

Song Credits






Down In It

This version originally appeared on the Down In It single as the "Skin" mix, and would become the version that appears on Pretty Hate Machine. In chronological order, this is the first Nine Inch Nails song ever released to the general public.

Song Credits

  • Reproduced and remixed by Adrian Sherwood, Keith LeBlanc

Down In It (Demo)

Appears on Head Like a Hole (US) as the last track, running 3:52. Also appears on the Demos and Remixes and Purest Feeling II bootlegs.

Song Credits

  • Writing, performance, production, mixing: Trent Reznor

Down In It (Demos & Remixes Version)

Appears on the Demos and Remixes bootleg, running 4:35. Almost exactly the same as the Purest Feeling version, simply lacking the extra layering and sound effects as well as the distorted outro, though it does retain the extended drumbeat intro.

Down In It (Big Whole Mix)

Appears on the Demos and Remixes bootleg, running 4:09. It's an odd version with Reznor whispering a good portion of his vocals under an odd beat. It also includes faux-Oriental sounding synths which are noticeably absent in any of the other versions of the song.

Down In It (Purest Feeling)

Appears on Purest Feeling as the last track, differing from its official counterparts as that it has an extended intro with strange screams and odd static. It also includes about 1 minute and 8 seconds of distorted clippings of the song at the end as a finish to the album. Musically it's extremely close to the "(Demo)" version from the Head Like a Hole US single.

Down In It (Skin)

The version that appears on Pretty Hate Machine is in fact the "Skin" remix, but it is not listed as such on the album. It also appears on Demos and Remixes with an unadulterated version of the "Terrible Lie" intro tacked onto the end, which fades out.

Down In It (Shred)

A mix that appears on both the Down In It and Head Like a Hole singles, running 7:00. It basically retains the original song with an extended intro and a long instrumental area that makes up the entire latter half of the song.

Song Credits

  • Reproduced and remixed by Adrian Sherwood, Keith LeBlanc

Down In It (Singe)

A mix that appears on both the Down In It and Head Like a Hole singles, running 7:21 on the latter. It's a mostly instrumental "dub" mix of the song with minimal vocals and strange warping and mixing of the beats with heavy bass emphasis. It should be noted that this mix is actually 18 seconds longer on the Head Like A Hole (US) single than it was on the Down In It single. The reason for this is unknown, though it's probably due to the time constraints imposed on vinyl singles compared to a full sized LP Maxi Single.

Song Credits

  • Reproduced and remixed by Adrian Sherwood, Keith LeBlanc

Down In It (Closure)

This is a live version found on the Closure home video. It was filmed on the Self-Destruct Tour between 1994 and 1996 and cut to include different footage and accompanying audio from different performances.


As of Fragility 2.0, Reznor had stated that he didn't like the song as much as he used to, but during the later legs of the Live: With Teeth tour, it seemed as if he's changed his mind about the song, playing it more as the tour progressed. The song usually features a lot of destruction from Reznor towards the end.

Music Video

Screenshot from the "Down In It" video

"Down In It" was the first Nine Inch Nails video. It was directed by Eric Zimmerman and Benjamin Stokes, who also directed "Head Like A Hole." The video depicts Reznor running through downtown Chicago and climbing to the roof of a building, where he slips and falls to his death. Bandmates Richard Patrick and Chris Vrenna discover the body days later. An extended version of the video also exists, which is set to the "Shred" mix.

This was the first video to be met with controversy. To film the shots of lifeless Reznor, he was covered with cornstarch to create the illusion of decay and cameras were tied to heavy-duty balloons that were tied down. During the filming of these scenes, one of the balloons broke free and took the camera with it, drifting some 200 miles before being found by a farmer in Michigan. The camera was turned over to local police who, upon seeing the raw video footage, assumed it was a snuff film and the FBI was called in to investigate. The incident was even reported on Hard Copy and recalled in an interview for SPIN magazine. Because MTV and its US affiliates were uncomfortable with the video's subject matter, all scenes that depict Reznor's body lying on the ground behind the building were deleted.


  • Director: Eric Zimmerman & Benjamin Stokes
  • Producer: Jim Deloye
  • Cameraman: Eric Zimmerman, Benjamin Stokes, Eric Koziol & Eric Matthies
  • Editor: Eric Zimmerman & Benjamin Stokes


    Kinda like a cloud I was up way up in the sky and I was feeling some feelings you wouldn't believe
    Sometimes I can't believe them myself and I decided I was never coming down
    Just then a tiny little dot caught my eye it was just about too small to see
    But I watched it way too long and that dot was pulling me down
    I was up above it
    Now I'm down in it
    Well shut up so what what does it matter now
    I was swimming in the haze now I crawl on the ground
    And everything I never liked about you is kind of seeping into me
    Try to laugh about it now but isn't it funny how everything works out
    ("I guess the joke's on me," she said)
    I was up above it
    Now I'm down in it
    I used to be so big and strong
    I used to know my right from wrong
    I used to never be afraid
    I used to be somebody
    I used to have something inside
    Now just this hole that's open wide
    I used to want it all
    I used to be somebody
    I'll cross my heart and hope to die but the needle's already in my eye
    And all the world's weight is on my back and I don't even know why
    And what I used to think was me is just a fading memory
    I looked him right in the eye and said "goodbye"
    I was up above it
    Now I'm down in it

The fourth line is changed on the final recording to:

    But I watched it way too long, it was pulling me down

Backing vocals in Pretty Hate Machine version:

    Rain rain go away, come again some other day.

During the last shows of the Wave Goodbye Tour, the last line of the third verse was changed to:

   I looked him right in the eye and waved goodbye

External Links

Previous track - "Terrible Lie" Track 3 from Pretty Hate Machine Next track - "Sanctified"