The Perfect Drug

Album: The Perfect Drug (1997)
Charted: 43 46
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  • The "Perfect Drug" is Absinthe, which is a French green liquor. One of the ingredients contains wormwood. Wormwood contains a substance called thujone, which is an epileptic and can cause renal failure in extremely high doses. The effect of absinthe is sometimes compared to the effects of opium and marijuana. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jessica - Austin, TX
  • Perfect drug maybe, but not a perfect song. NIN founder Trent Reznor explained in a VIVA 2 Magazine interview, "At that time I was listening to a lot of Drum 'n' Bass and Jungle and stuff. And I think that's the most I've ever seen external influence come out in my own music. And it was a transition period, that's what I want to stress, it was a time when I was feeling out what I wanted to do artistically and given the liberation of working within the context of a soundtrack, it's not like a major work. I always treated that as an area to be freer and try things. I'm glad it was in that context. There was never any consideration to include that on [The Fragile]. It really was an area where I was feeling out the landscape to see what I wanted to do." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sarah - Santiago, Chile
  • The song was written for the David Lynch film Lost Highway. It was accompanied by a video directed by Mark Romanek, who previously shot Nine Inch Nail's "Closer" clip.
  • Despite the song's worldwide success, Trent Reznor considers this to be the piece of work he's least satisfied with.

    "It was one of those things where you have a week to do a track for a movie, the mindset that you kind of adapt in that situation, or I did, was 'let's go in and experiment and see what happens, and it's not, y'know, whatever comes out of it, it's not the end of the world'," he said while presenting the late-night BBC Radio 1 Rock Show in the UK. "And I think what came out of it, married with a bloated, over-budget video, feels like ... the least thing that I would play to somebody if they said play me, y'know, the top hundred songs you've written, that probably wouldn't be in the top hundred. I'm not cringing about it, but it's not my favorite piece."
  • Nine Inch Nails played "The Perfect Drug" live for the first time during their September 18, 2018 show at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.

Comments: 18

  • Dan Gillespy from Courtenay BcA true gothic classic.
  • JoshNo it's about an unhealthy relationship, not Absinthe
  • Tony from Northeastern Ohio, OhI registered for this site specifically for this song.

    The Perfect Drug was written specifically for the soundtrack of the movie Lost Highway. Trent Reznor commented in a BBC-1 interview "... you have [we had] a week to do a track for a movie, ... 'let's go in [to the studio] and experiment and see what happens..." (brackets mine).Reznor also states that the music video had an "over-bloated", implying that the entire affair was something done solely to satisfy a contract. He also states in the 2005 interview that it is least favorite Nine Inch Nails song.

    My humble opinion is that there is not any particular deeper meaning to be found in the song, other than the one(s) it imparts upon the specific listener. (i.e. NIN did not have any message in mind when writing the song. It's not "about anything" in particular)

    The video for the song portrays a despairing father mourning the loss of his daughter, and self medicating himself with absinthe. It was inspired by Edward Gorey's 'The Grashlycrumb Tinies"

    All that being said, it is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite Nine Inch Nails song, I just don't think that there is any one specific right or wrong answer to the question "What is that song, 'The Perfect Drug', about?"
  • Jason from Orlando, FlI just got out of a relationship and I think I now know exactly what this song is about. It's about being co-dependent on someone who is bad for you. I could go line by line explaining every one, because it is EXACTLY how i feel about my fiance who left me. But I see now that she was leading me down the wrong path and I just didn't care because I am so co-dependent.
  • Wudstock from Dallas, TxDidn't he buy that house where the Manson family killed those people to record that album?
  • Wudstock from Dallas, TxThis was always one of my favorite NIN songs, and from what I recall the best part of a soundtrack to a weird ass movie (Lost Highway), although I don't really remember any of the movie 10+ years later.

    P.S. - Trent Reznor's stash is creepy. I'm sure that's what he was going for though.

    NIN - 20+ years of good tunes. That is all.

    From what I heard this song was about his son died.
  • Jeremy from Houston, TxThe Perfect Drug IS IN FACT A SONG TELLING OF TRENT'S STRUGGLE WITH DRUGS AND ALCOHOL!!! If you people want to continue argueing about this fact, read this next passage! Its from Trent's biography and tells of his bouts with drugs and alcohol during the recording of The Downward Spiral (1994) and The Fragile (1999)! The Perfect Drug was recorded between 1996 and 97, right in the center of this terrible period in his life! ---""During the five years between his albums The Downward Spiral (1994) and The Fragile (1999), Trent Reznor struggled with depression, social anxiety disorder, writer's block, and the death of his grandmother. It has also been revealed by Reznor that he had been suffering from alcohol and drug addiction during the Fragile era. In a 2005 interview with Kerrang!, Reznor makes a note of his self-destructive past, "There was a persona that had run its course. I needed to get my priorities straight, my head screwed on. Instead of always working, I took a couple of years off, just to figure out who I was and working out if I wanted to keep doing this or not. I had become a terrible addict; I needed to get my s--t together, figure out what had happened."""
  • Kyle from Miller Place, United KingdomThe perfect drug in my opinion is a woman he is falling in love with even though he knows it will only end in pain.
    "I come along but I don't know where you're taking me
    I shouldn't go but you're reaching back and shaking me"
  • Meg from Jackson , MiOk first of all people if your true NIN fans then you should know that Trent wrote this song while watching Lost Highway. He was asked by David Lynch(the director) to write a song for the movie and he did so. There is no specific meaning to this song, it came to him as he was watching the movie.
  • Jesse from Sabina, OhHurt is about depression. The needle could be anything. It's a metaphor. I'm not going to get into the gory details, but I've suffered from depression for over a decade, and let me tell ya, there's a lot of ways to bleed and a needle is only one of 'em. The depressed often use self-mutilation as a way to relieve stress. Pain is a great distraction from boredom, sadness, apathy...
  • Hailie from Sydney, AustraliaI love this song, Its got great sound, great vocal's n great lyrics!!!
  • Dan from Santa Clarita, CaWho here actually believes this song is about a video game that didnt even come out in the same decade? for one, yes the video features a bottle of absinthe which Trent Reznor drinks. but if you also honestly believe that he wasnt addicted to heroine then listen to the song "Hurt" off of The Downward Spiral. whats the needle Josh? whats the needle?
  • James from Santa Clarita, Calol ive never even heard of these things before. he made that intensive "love" song, about DOOM? when i hear that, i think of the intense, heart pounding passion you can have, the kind of self-projection disease with our kind of problems have. his blood wants to get inside of you. without you, everything just falls apart, without you, its not as much fun to pick up the pieces. again. and again.
  • Josh from Hell, LaPefect Drug is not on Pretty Hate Machine, or any other LP for that matter. It was created for the soundtrack of the very cool David Lynch movie "Lost Highway" in 1996, in which Trent was very deeply involved. In addition to Perfect Drug, he made two more tracks that were credited not to Nine Inch Nails, but to Trent Reznor as a solo artist. It also features tracks from David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, and Rammstien, all of whom have toured with Nine Inch Nails and collaborated with Trent. Anyways, I wasn't wrong. Why can't you go check your facts before you post like that? This is how ignorance spreads like a disease... Next time, go look at a discography or something like the one at or maybe google "nine inch nails discography". It's like magic - Poof! The ignorance has disappeared.
  • Natasha from Aurora, CoWell, Josh, seeing how Doom came out in 1993, and Pretty Hate Machine came out in 1989, I'd say you're wrong. Yeah.

    I do how ever agree that cocaine, not heroin or crack, was his drug of choice.
  • Josh from Hell, LaI have no idea where you people have been getting your information. I feel obligated to sign up here and post so that this misinformation doesn't spread. First of all, Trent Reznor was /not/ "addicted to heroin and alcohol for many years", nor have his songs been "formed around these addictions". Trent is a very private person, but around the time that With Teeth was released Trent gave an interview in which he talked about the drug abuse that he had put behind him. The drug in question was cocaine, not heroin, and I don't believe he actually came out and said that he had been "addicted". We can't just assume he had been addicted "for many years" or that "many of his songs have been formed around these addictions". Before that interview, Trent pretty much kept his drug use to himself.

    As for The Perfect Drug, it's pretty well known among Nine Inch Nails fans that the inspiration behind the song wasn't drugs, alcohol, or women at all. The Perfect Drug is actually about Doom, an "addictive" computer game that Trent reportedly loved. Around the same time, Trent composed the music for another first person shooter, the original Quake. The NIN logo even showed up in the game, printed on boxes of ammo for, you guessed it, the nail gun.

    Hopefully, this will clear things up. If only I had seen this before a ton of other people had already read it.
  • Diluted from St. Maries, IdThe Perfect Drug seems to vary in the meaning related to it. Trent Reznor was was addicted to heroin and alcohol for many years, and just the addiction can eat away at someone. Absinthe was involved in the music video. It's a psychoactive alcohol, made with many different herbs, the main being wormwood. I think the point is that many of his songs have been formed around these addictions, and The Perfect Drug isn't an exception. I think it may also relate to a relationship that he has had with someone, and he's just trying to hold on.
  • Max from Sydney, AustraliaTHis is just about a woman he's going out with.And he's addicted to her.hence its name
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