It isn’t some well-known secret that Lil Nas X’s smash hit song samples legendary rock band Nine Inch Nails. If that twangy banjo in “Old Town Road” sounds familiar, it’s because it comes from NIN”s “34 Ghosts IV.” The band’s group members are credited as songwriters on the track, but no one from NIN has spoken publicly about their inclusion in the record-breaking hit until now.
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The band’s frontman Trent Reznor chatted with Rolling Stoneabout NIN being linked to “Old Town Road,” and while it was thought that Reznor would be more cynical about the situation, he admitted to liking the song. “At first, when you hear your stuff turned into something else, it always feels awkward because it’s something that intimately came from you in some way,” Reznor told Rolling Stone, adding, “The music from Ghosts that turned into ‘Old Town Road’ certainly didn’t come from as intimate a place as the song ‘Hurt’ did, but it’s still something that I remember what I was thinking about when we did it and then you hear it turned into this other thing — it feels strange at first. But I thought he did a good job with that.”
Reznor explained that he hasn’t said anything about “Old Town Road” before because he didn’t think that it was his “place to play any kind of social critic to that.” He was even asked to make a cameo in the video, but in the end, he declined because he didn’t want to be the focus of attention in someone else’s moment. Yet, Reznor admitted that he certainly didn’t think the track would become such a huge hit. “It’s flattering.”
“The way it was presented to me originally is I got a call from my management saying, ‘We got a call from a panicked manager saying they had used the sample of something off Ghosts,'” Reznor remembered. ‘”They should have cleared it, but it didn’t get cleared. It’s picking up some steam on the viral Spotify charts. What do you think about that?’ And I said, ‘Look, I’m fine with it. I get how stuff goes. They’re not saying they didn’t sample it. Just work it out, but don’t be a roadblock to this.’ I hadn’t heard it yet. Then a few weeks later, I was like, ‘Holy sh*t.'” Check out “34 Ghosts IV” below to check out the sample.