David Bowie inspired a near-countless amount of artists throughout his life and career, but maybe none so much as Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor. During their first show in three years last night at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena, Nine Inch Nails decided to honor their fallen hero with a haunting cover of his song “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” from his 2016 farewell album Blackstar.
“This song is very important to us and to me personally,” Reznor said to the vast crowd just before launching into their tender take on the song. “We were in the studio kind of messing around and it felt like we needed to do something…we needed to process [his loss] in some way, so we re-worked a song of his that gave us some sort of closure that felt good to us.”
Shortly after Bowie died last year, Reznor penned an incredibly touching eulogy in Rolling Stone, describing how much the icon meant to him as both an artist and as a friend:
By the early Nineties, as I found myself onstage with an audience, I was in full-obsession mode with Bowie. I read into all the breadcrumbs he’d put out — the clues in his lyrics that reveal themselves over time, the cryptic photographs, the magazine articles — and I projected and created what he was to me…Then, in the mid-Nineties, he reached out to me and said, “Let’s collaborate and do a tour together.” It’s hard to express how validating and surreal the whole experience of the Outside tour was — to actually meet this man in the flesh and find out, to my delight, that he passed any expectation I had. The fact that he was this graceful, charming, happy, fearless character became a new point of inspiration for me.
Tomorrow, Nine Inch Nails will finally unveil their second installment in a planned trilogy of EPs, a new release titled Add Violence. You can check out their live performance of “I Can’t Give Everything Away” above and a different view with Reznor’s introduction below.