"Eraser" as written by and Michael Trent Reznor....
Need you
Dream you
Find you
Taste you
Fuck you
Use you
Scar you
Break you
Lose me
Hate me
Smash me
Erase me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me
Kill me

Lyrics submitted by implode

"Eraser" as written by Trent Reznor

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Eraser song meanings
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  • +9
    General CommentTogether with "A Warm Place," this is the first indication that our protagonist is nearing a conclusion to his mental battle of epic proportions with the Ruiner. This song demonstrates it in a very different way though.

    Something in the beginning of the song sounds like flies, as the final calm notes of "A Warm Place" fade away. I imagine waking up from a dream, and realizing that your life was a whole lot better there than it actually is. The loud, harsh drums - he rises to carry on with his boring, painful, dysfunctional life. Though his previous realization that he is responsible for himself once had hope, the combination of his own selfish self and the antagonistic Ruiner turns that in the opposite direction, into a depression. He feels worthless, used, weary. His life is collapsing, and at this point even just going through his monotonous life is having a corrosive effect on both him and his mental stability, hence the continuous "erasing" sounds. Slowly, there is an accumulation of more and more distorted instruments: he goes through his same routine day after day, his unending cycle of boring work and control-obsession, and each day, it gets worse. To me, this is the perfect example of Reznor's fine use of repetition; in this case, displaying the ordinary events of a man's life as caustic horrors eroding him into nothingness.

    And finally, the lyrics start. The first set, ending with the words "you," is our antagonist speaking: Mr. Self-Destruct/The Ruiner/the voice inside his head, whatever you want to call him. The selfish narrator envisions him as his ex-girlfriend, or anyone who has ever hurt him; a girl who used him up and left him. However, the sad reality is that the Ruiner is himself, which our narrator is now sub-consciously aware of in the little humanity he has left. He has hurt and broken himself time after time by allowing himself to fall this deep into the downward spiral. These sadistic lyrics also demonstrate the nature of the antagonist, as was previously done in "Ruiner." Notice how quiet the music is, and how calmly he speaks of destroying a person's life: he is a sociopath, it is his purpose to ruin, consume and ultimately erase.

    Finally, there is the last set of lyrics; this time it's our protagonist. By sharp contrast, the music is extremely loud and harsh, and the tragic hero's voice is flooded with emotion and desperation. The fact that Mr. Self-Destruct is himself, or his dark side per se, demonstrates that he has lost himself, he has lost his humanity. Instead of looking for it, however, he continues that he hates himself, he hates what he has become and he hates his life and his daily routines and everything. Furthermore, "smash me" becomes even more sad when he declares that as opposed to losing himself, the Ruiner (himself) has smashed his humanity, and finally, that the Ruiner has erased his humanity. This is important; there is a very significant difference between "erase me" and "kill me." In that second-to-last lyric, "erase me," he comes to believe that his humanity is completely gone, no longer lost or damaged but erased. "Kill me" is what he seems to think is his only solution left. Instead of looking, instead of repairing, instead of taking initiative and responsibility, he thinks the only way to stop Mr. Self-Destruct/The Ruiner is to kill himself and end the downward spiral. These are his first thoughts of suicide. The repetition of this, and the endless distorted guitar riff getting progressively more and more distorted, goes to show his desperation getting stronger, getting the best of him, and him actually believing this is the only way to fix everything that has happened to him.

    Just as a side-note, I heard somewhere that the last few times he says "kill me," the distortion turns it into a barely recognizable "help me." IF that's true, it could be his barely existent humanity making a call for help, trying either get someone else to help him out of the spiral or trying to get the protagonist to realize he won't be completely lost so long as he lives.

    In any case, I think this is one of the most important songs on the album. Amazing how much emotion can be captured in so few words, and how applicable it can actually be to everyone's internal conflicts and ordinary lives in some cases.
    HammerFloydon December 09, 2012   Link
  • +7
    Song MeaningThe entire album (The Downward Spiral) is about a man's battle with his cold, emotionless "machine" half of himself, and it peaks in this song.
    In the intro, the drums represent the human half of the narrator, who has previously been shown to repeat phrases ("nothing can stop me now", "I wanna know everything", etc.) as a coping mechanism in the face of danger. Likewise, the drums loop endlessly in the face of an assault of guitar static, a noise which represents his machine half, as seen at the very end of "Hurt" and most of the album from "The Becoming" onwards.
    Then the lyrics start. The first set is clearly his machine half talking, based on the lack of emotion and calmness of the voice. The narrator's human half, meanwhile, stays trapped in the background in the form of a drum loop, helplessly listening as his machine half describes all his relationships.
    "Need you
    Dream you"
    For the narrator, relationships are necessary for him to assert his dominance over someone else. When his previous girlfriend left in "Piggy", he was devastated - not because he missed her, but because he missed the feeling of control. His human half might downplay this need, but his mechanical side has no problem exposing it for what it is.
    "Find you
    Taste you"
    To fill his need for dominance, the narrator finds someone to lord over and gets to know them ("tastes" them).
    "Fuck you
    Use you"
    Pretty self-explanatory, although the "fuck you" could be either a literal fucking or just the exclamation (i.e. "fuck off").
    "Scar you
    Break you"
    Having used the "piggy" for his own ends, the narrator throws them away like trash and starts the cycle again.
    Then the narrator's human half breaks through. It's listened to the machine half, can see the circle (or downward spiral) he's created, and he wants to end it. The screeching wall of sound made by the guitars is the mechanical half trying to push him back as he shouts out his message of self-realization.
    "Lose me!"
    Two important shifts occur here. One, the voice has emotion - more emotion than I've ever heard on any other song. And two, the perspective changes. No longer is the narrator commanding himself to abuse the "piggy". He's commanding the "piggy" to abuse him. Specifically, he wants to be lost, forgotten, and left alone where he can't hurt anyone but himself.
    "Hate me!"
    The narrator sees what he's done to his girlfriends, and he hates himself for it. He can see that it's far too late to atone for his sins, though. Much more drastic measures are necessary.
    "Smash me!"
    The narrator is getting more and more desperate. As the guitars grow louder, his pleas go from wishes to be left alone to orders to be killed.
    "Erase me!"
    He can see that death is too good for him. What he needs is to be erased - wiped away without a trace that he ever existed. Only then can he undo all the pain he has caused. Obviously, though, that isn't possible, so he settles for the next-best thing.
    "Kill me!"
    And so it comes to this. As the wall of guitars close in on him, the narrator's humanity screams its increasingly distorted protest in the only way it knows how - a cry for someone to end him. It's worth noting that even though the narrator sees that death is the only way out of his situation, he's not yet ready to pull the trigger himself.
    All in all, one of the rawest, most emotional pieces I have ever heard. Somehow, this song makes me cry every time, even more so than Hurt.
    PresidentOfAntarcticaon March 12, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General CommentPain.
    landingstillon May 12, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song is so amazing...how they sum up a hole relationship in 26 words...i love it
    RubberDuckieYAYon June 13, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis whole album can fit all sorts of interpretations. it's so flexable. It's great.
    NickTheStripperon January 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHammerfloyd:
    Yes, very well said. I like the idea of him "waking up" because that also adds an additional implication that the protagonist actually prefers sleep to life itself, and sleep is the closes thing to death there is. I always looked at it in a less contextual way like this. He is aspiring after something, probably someone, beautiful. But this could also refer to something less tangible like "perfection," peace of mind, happiness, etc. However, when he reaches or obtains this thing he only fucks it up, accidentally. The following ending is the expression of his guilt/remorse for destroying/hurting everything he loves. It could also be said that what he loves most is himself. A beautiful song.
    Androgyneon August 07, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commentit is how he sees himslef in a relationship; as the user, to me that mean he is afraid of being used...
    drgonzothxon August 26, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is a great way of describing a relationship. he feels that all relationships end badly and are repetitious
    Mekylon October 17, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWOW! What a beautiful song! I can relate to it so well! It's obviously about hoping to become close to someone, but that hope falls through, and it hurts like HELL! I LOVE "The Downward Spiral!" It's my favorite album ever!
    Chrissy3784on March 16, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDamn this song produces so much mental imagery especially prior to the lyrics. Anyone seen the video of it being played live?
    egbon May 02, 2003   Link

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