Songs You Really Should Have Heard By Now #1

Tricky – Makes Me Wanna Die (1996)

‘Makes Me Wanna Die’ is easily the standout track from Pre-Millennium Tension, perhaps the most accessible too. That’s saying a lot coming from Tricky who was, at his 90’s peak, frequently attributed as a sort of trip-hop prince of darkness. Taking the drum break from The Headhunters’ ‘God Made Me Funky’ and slowing it down to a languid 82 bpm, the only other things punctuating the sparse track are a plaintive funk guitar, Martina Topley-Bird’s meandering vocals and Tricky’s occasional whispers.

Like all well-written songs, the subject matter is intentionally left open to interpretation. In all likeliness it’s about weed more than anything else. Tricky makes allusions to ‘Mary’ (you know, short for marijuana), isms (Rasta slang for, again, marijuana) and most overtly to ‘smoking hydroponic’.

For my intent and purposes I like to think of the song as an anti-paean for a guy who’s hopelessly drawn to an unattainable target. He’s clearly infatuated with her (‘Cherish the things she knows / Says if I change my stride / Then I’ll fly’) and has his mind stupefied by her mere presence (‘Look to the sun / See me in psychic pollution / Walking on the moon’).

Unfortunately he can’t shake off his lingering sense of self-deprecation and feeling of not being good enough (‘Who do you think you are? / You’re insignificant / A small piece, an ism / No more no less’). His solution? To make excuses for himself and escape from reality (‘You know it’s ironic / Smoking hydroponic’).

She really makes him wanna die.

2 Responses to “Songs You Really Should Have Heard By Now #1”

  1. Michelle Says:
    October 24th, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I’d have picked Black Steel from Maxinquaye as the must-hear Tricky track, for being good on its own and also one of the best cover versions I’ve ever heard. This one is a bit meh to me…I do like it, because I like trip-hop, but I don’t find it a standout.

  2. shtikman Says:
    October 24th, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Yeah Black Steel is pretty awesome, I’m with you on that. I only picked this out cos it was the right song for the right emo moment … hehe …