Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 31
Mon, Feb 25, 2013
“Makes Me Wanna Die [feat. Martina]”
the things she
knows/ says if
I change my
stride/ then I’ll
I’ve been struggling for the meaning of “Makes Me Wanna Die,” this critically acclaimed fifth track on Adrian Thaws better known as Tricky’s official, non-Nearly God, 1996 follow-up Pre-Millennium Tension to 1995’s Maxinquaye. Part of the problem of attempting to decipher the meaning of “Makes Me” is when Tricky said this about his songs, “Lyrics and… certain lyrics, you remember certain things and you feel a bit sad. And then at times it’s just fun, comical…”Trying to escape his infamous Trip Hop moniker, Tricky explained trying to escape the Bristol sound when he said, “That’s why I did Nearly God, and that’s why I did Pre-Millennium Tension. You can’t see them as trip-hop albums. So I just keep running away from it. But the farther you run, it’s still there. They’ll find you.”
Even so, Tricky’s 1996 album was named one of the Heaviest Albums of All Time in 2008 by Q Magazine. When Tricky was interviewed by Option Magazine in 1996, talking about Pre-Millennium Tension, he said this, “My albums sound so much different than my lifestyle. I rush around, and my music kind of relaxes; but even the mellow stuff I do is still quite manic. If you listen, there’s a lot of tension and nervous energy there.” The dark energy is brought by Martina’s very eerie vocal. Martina Topley Bird talked about how she set the mood recording with Tricky when she explained, “I make them quite hypnotic and sort of mantra-like. I suppose I’m trying to make a subtle altered state, gently luring in rather than just reaching out and grabbing.”
That’s why Tricky had Martina as a vocalized mirror; she was angel to his lyrical dirty face. Because of their dynamic partnership breeding their one of a kind and out of this universe discography, Tricky once claimed that every one of his song, up to and including1996’s Pre-Millennium Tension’s songs were ‘uncoverable’— meaning no bad would ever dreamed of covering his eccentrically genius original songs. Tricky expanded on his claim when he said, “I think they’re uncoverable, yeah, I think they are as well. I mean, the closest maybe, say, “Makes Me Wanna Die”, something like that, you could take the words and the melody, overcome the words and the melody but there’s not a lot there…”
I disagree, there is a lot there within “Wanna Die” you just have to listen for it. The first thing you’ll notice the more obvious hip hop influence on Pre-Millennium Tension. Tricky said this about his unique deep soul, hip hop inspired, tripped out carnal songs when he explained “I think I’ve got something new for the planet. But I’ve definitely been inspired by hip hop, no doubt about that. And I [still] do constantly get inspired by hip hop.”
Talking about the American rap influences Tricky said, “First it was the Sugar Hill Gang, like ‘Hotel, Motel,’ and Grandmaster Flash. But my passion come when I first heard Slick Rick and Rakim. That’s when I was totally converted.” On Pre-Millennium, Tricky samples Doug E Fresh on “Christanlands” and Slick Rick on Martina’s cover of Eric B & Rakim’s “Lyrics of Fury.” Tricky honors Eric B & Rakim again on his expertly placed sample of “Beats for the Listeners” on “Makes Me Wanna Die.” You will need to have your headphones on to here Rakim whisper “It’s to the listeners,” before every one of Martina’s lyrics? Why does Tricky do this? Once you discover Tricky’s use of Eric B’s “Listeners” sample, it kind of takes away the doom and gloom demise tone to Martina’s very scathing lyrics.
Maybe Tricky’s insight to his own songwriting process is a clue when he told Vibe Magazine, “[My music has] got a life of its own. See, people don’t make music, music makes us. Things happen and you can’t explain why.” Or perhaps while listening to the very rare acoustic version, where Tricky strips down the obvious hip-hop influence, by turning Martina’s desolation vocal of “Makes Me Wanna Die” into a Billie Holliday “Strange Fruit—” esque post modern bluesy classic?
It goes back to Tricky’s roots his own inner creative voice of curiosity is what first inspired Adrian Thaws to craft the songs that first became the Aftermath that was Maxinquaye. “I love sounds, so I just tried to make my own. Engineers say I work backwards. I can’t visualize that – backwards – but that’s what they say. It’s probably because I just don’t know how to do it the real way. But I don’t want to know. I can’t read music, and the last thing I need to do is learn. I mean, who’s to say what’s right or wrong in music? That’s ridiculous.”
Look for the beautiful and ridiculous in everything, even within the gloomy greatness of Tricky’s “Makes Me Wanna Die.” Could there be some smoky clues exhaled through out Tricky’s song cloud conundrum? Maybe Martina’s singing is Tricky personifying the obvious obsession behind the menacing cravings of his herbal addiction? But trying to unravel the mystery behind Tricky’s message might just be impossible; it’s best to sit back and by lit up Tricky’s lyrical enlightenment by just enjoying his genius. It’s quite a lively trip and well worth it. Tune in, tune in and get lost within the bluesy desperation sounds of Tricky and Martina’s manically depressive brilliance of “Makes Me Wanna Die.”