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Trent Reznor felt "insecure" about covering David Bowie's "Life on Mars?" for 'Watchmen' soundtrack

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HBO/Mark Hill

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross‘ score for the HBO series Watchmen includes an instrumental cover of the David Bowie song “Life on Mars?” But as the Nine Inch Nails frontman tells Rolling Stone, he was very uncertain about taking on such a classic track.

“There are certain things that feel kind of sacred,” Reznor explains. “You learn quickly being in a band that if you’re gonna do a cover, don’t start with a perfect song, ’cause you’re setting yourselves up for failure.”

“Bowie’s music certainly means a lot to us, and that song in particular…it’s hard not to tear up thinking about that track,” he continues. “The thought of a cover, how could we possibly mess with that?”

Reznor felt a bit better about covering “Life on Mars?” when he learned Watchmen creator Damon Lindelof wanted just an instrumental track, but he still felt “defeated, a little tired, certainly a little insecure.” So much so, in fact, that Reznor didn’t want to include it on the vinyl releases of the score.

“Then everyone that heard it responded really positively to it, and when it came out, it got more attention then probably anything else in the series, in a way,” Reznor says. “It felt good to get that recognition. Now when we listen to it, we’re not filled with anxiety, and we enjoy it.”

Reznor is not only a great admirer of Bowie’s music, but also of Bowie as a person. When the rock legend died in 2016, Reznor wrote an essay crediting Bowie for helping him get sober.

Meanwhile, the Watchmen score is nominated for two awards at the 2020 Emmys. Having already won a Grammy and an Oscar, an Emmy win would make Ross and Reznor only a Tony short of a EGOT.

By Josh Johnson
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