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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 178
Fri. July 6, 2012

“Keep Your Mouth Shut”
Nearly God [feat. Tricky & Björk]
1996

“♫ And keep
it close to
your chest
♫”

Did you know Björk gave Tricky the melody and lyrics to ‘You’ve Been Flirting Again” which he recast as the doomed relationship duet— “Keep Your Mouth Shut?” Reincarnated in 1996 and equipped with Das-0 EFX sample, “Keep Your Mouth Shut” was a sonic re-imagining of Björk’s ‘You’ve Been Flirting Again” through the darkened dementia of Tricky’s menacing moniker—Nearly God.

I guess that is the nature of flirting, it is ambiguous and slippery. The lyrics are an attempt to describe that […] but there was a lot of flirting going on.” Björk said describing the original intention of her Post song “You’ve Been Flirting Again.” Inspired by Tricky, “Flirting” originally described the blossoming romance between Björk and Tricky.

We never really had a relationship, if y’know what I mean. We were in weak states, and just leant on each other.” Tricky said responding to the rumors of his coupling with Björk. Unfortunately, Tricky didn’t see their collaboration sparking into a more intimate because as he put it—“By the time I made ‘Nearly God’, I was a mess.”

Tricky clarified the romantic falling out he shared with Björk, when he said—“She demands quite a lot as a person, she’ll give you everything, love and all that, but I can’t handle that. She’s got a bit of a fairy-tale life. She wants to be in love. And we got into a stupid argument. She asked me if I love her, and I said, ‘No, I don’t. Do you mean, do I need you? You’re a wicked person, but I can’t say I’m in love with you.” And then it all went up in the air, and she had her heart broken, and I left. But I think she thought she was in love with me, or she liked the thought of two people being in love.”

Tricky may not be the best companion but he’s a dedicated delicious demon in the studio. His intense creativity is what must have drawn Björk to Tricky. Despite their romantic untangling, at least their collaboration was one of the definite highlights on Nearly God.

Roger Morton of NMW best described Tricky’s new collaboration with as—“‘Keep Your Mouth Shut’ is not trip-hop. It’s Hades-hop. It’s padded-cell pop.” Morton was one of the many critics to wax poetic describing the darkness of Nearly God. I have to admit even I got lost, when I first experienced Nearly God in 1996, and I wasn’t alone, according to writer Alexis Petridis—“A friend told Tricky ‘Nearly God’ was “the Devil’s music”. He says he finds it “relaxing”, that it “chills him out“.

Tricky was half-right. If Maxinquaye was exploring his lusting urges in the spot light, Nearly God is the midnight desires undressed within claustrophobic soundscapes of Tricky’s madness. But sometimes you have to find beauty in the darkness. “Keep Your” is how I imagined Tricky reaction, the moment Björk shared with him, her true emotions. “Mouth Shut” is Tricky rejecting Björk’s romantic advances within the self-seething loathing musings of Nearly God.

So how did Tricky come up with the nom de plume of Nearly God, he explained to The Face in 1996 when said—“It was from a bloke who interviewed me in Germany last year. He came in and said, “So how does it feel to be God?”, then stopped and went, “Well, nearly God.” Nearly God was too good of a name for Tricky to pass up. Tricky used it as the album title for his first follow-up to 1995’s critically acclaimed Maxinquaye.

Not many Tricky fans know about his Nearly God–like opus. A flawed masterwork of a Tricky’s genius exploring his inner emotions with a soundtrack that sends you illuminating half-truths in your deepest – darkest spaces. Don’t be afraid; take a bath in Tricky’s epic songs steeped in rhythmic darkness. Stop complaining, “Keep Your Mouth Shut,” and get ready to face your demons with Nearly God as your sinister guide.

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