Sometimes the thing you don’t want any part of wants you more! According to a published report by Revolver, Nine Inch Nails, a.k.a., Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won a Country Music Association Award today for their production on the sample from Nine Inch Nails’ “34 Ghosts IV” (found on the Ghosts I-IV collection) that wound up in the global smash hit remix of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” The 53rd annual ceremony is set to air tonight, November 13th, but many winners were announced earlier today on Good Morning America, including Reznor and Ross.
The sample was originally unauthorized and took Reznor by surprise. And he was reluctant to acknowledge the connection to the song or ask for royalties. He recently spoke to Rolling Stone at length about its inclusion in the massive radio hit. “The reason I haven’t stepped in to comment anything about it is, I don’t feel it’s my place to play any kind of social critic to that,” he explained. “It was a material that was used in a significant way and it turned into something that became something else, and those guys should be the ones the spotlight is on.”
Proper licensing procedures were ultimately followed, and Reznor allowed the sample to remain in the infectious tune, which quickly took on a life of its own. According to the NIN bandleader, he was even asked to make an appearance in the short film–style music video featuring Billy Ray Cyrus and, of course, Lil Nas X himself in something of a western fever dream.
“They asked if I wanted to do a cameo in the video,” Reznor recalled, “and it was flattering, and I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I don’t feel like it’s my place to shine a light on me for that. I say that with complete respect.”
Despite the industrial-music titan’s absence, the video has racked up more than 383 million views.