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Tricky's Wisdom Of The Heart

[Tricky: blue_shade-ss]
Photo by Stephanie Sednaoui

Or, How A Young Man From England Saved The
Soul Of A Music Journalist

By Johnny Walker (Black)


You can get jaded pretty quickly in this music writing business. Let's face it, as in every other occupation in life, rock and roll and its related genres are full of the mediocre, if not the downright inadequate. What once seemed exciting can quickly deteriorate into dullness when talking to one more band whose collective existence, if snuffed out tomorrow, wouldn't really be lamented by anybody. No, you soon learn that the opportunity to talk to the special ones, those artists whose energy and brilliance won't allow them to appear ordinary, indeed anything less than luminous, no matter how mundane the context--a press conference, for example--should be cherished.

He'd lived up to his monker quickly, giving the slip to the assembled throng of music journalists and record company types awaiting his arrival in a downtown Toronto pub. It was an incredibly cold January day, the kind which lends credence to the old joke about Canadians being igloo dwellers. Tricky was safely (and warmly) installed within the walls of the evening's venue, and he wasn't coming out to play--the mountain would have to come to Mohammed.

Christian Sands (video excerpt) (3.16MB)

As I said, it's not a matter of mere fame--if that was the case, Michael Bolton would qualify--but of an energy that forms a faint halo of sparks around the heads of the brilliant ones, that gives their eyes a laser-beam intensity. I'd seen it before in Franz Treichler of the Young Gods, Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen. And I saw it in the eyes of Tricky, who, as he took his chair for a rescheduled press conference at the club, I noticed had rather disconcertingly picked yours truly out of the pack of collegiate looking types (at 6'2" and 215 lbs, goateed and clad in a knee-length black leather jacket, I looked like a biker crashing a poetry reading), grinning and nodding at me conspiratorially.

"I just want to touch some souls, youknowotImean?" --Tricky

[Tricky: with_hat-ss]

He's physically small, but with a large presence.

Photo by Stephanie Sednaoui

Small of stature, and dressed informally in a post-soundcheck sweater and jeans, Tricky nevertheless worked the room with the authority of a King, which is just what he kept insisting he really didn't want to be: that is, the Lord of the Slow Beats, or of any other abstract, media-created genres like trip-hop. While Tricky verbally expounded on a variety of topics, though, the real story was written on his face, which simultaneously looked weathered and youthfully impish, combining the personae of the sage and the jester, with ganja-reddened eyes which nevertheless blazed white-hot when a subject close to his heart emerged. Throughout, the message was clear: "I just want to touch some souls, youknowotImean?" Within about an hour of this proclamation, Tricky took the stage and proceeded to do just that.

Tricky, "Tricky Kid"
(45 second excerpt)
[Play Stereo MPEG] 1.10MB
[Play Mono MPEG] 552k
[Play Mono Ulaw] 367k
[Play RealAudio 3.0] 3.0
[Play RealAudio 28.8k] 28.8k
Click to buy this CD!


Side by side with the human race there runs another race of beings, the inhuman ones, the race of artists who, goaded by unknown impulses, take the lifeless mass of humanity and by the fever and ferment with which they imbue it turn this soggy dough into bread and the bread into wine and the wine into song. Out of the dead compost and the inert slag they breed a song that contaminates... And anything that falls short of this... anything less mad, less intoxicated, less contaminating, is not art.

-- Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

I can't believe the critical acclaim Beck's Odelay got. It's supposed to be new; I was expecting the future. I think maybe he's a nice kid, and everybody loves him [mockingly sings "I'm a loser, baby, somebody kill me"]. I'm sure he's quite smart with the press and things, but I can't believe that it's a number one album. That's terrible ain't it?

--Adrian "Tricky" Thaws, 1997

The inspired dreamer.

[Tricky: both_hands-NO]

What the popular music world has desperately lacked recently, and what it so urgently requires, is the madman, the inspired dreamer. Instead, what we've mostly had are businessmen in drag. It's become fashionable as of late for some of the jaded culture vultures who write about these things to ridicule Jim Morrison, but that's only because they fear what he stood for, captured not only in his art, but his very being: the uncontrollable forces which lurk just beneath the skin of our clockwork system. Yes, Morrison was destroyed by them, but in that death there is still more life than exists in a thousand corporate towers. Morrison saw it as the artist's sacred duty to "contaminate" the masses--dulled to a deathly stupor by an insidious lifelong indoctrination as to the "value" of work, of mindless labour, of joyless procreation, of a sacred "duty" toward the enigmatic goals of The Machine--with the Song of the Siren, to reconnect humanity with sensuality, intoxication, and fevered states of bliss, all the natural pleasures that it has been taught to repress, to feel guilty about enjoying.

Nearly God, "Poems"
(45 second excerpt)
[Play Stereo MPEG] 1.08MB
[Play Mono MPEG] 539k
[Play Mono Ulaw] 359k
[Play RealAudio 3.0] 3.0
[Play RealAudio 28.8k] 28.8k
Click to buy this CD!

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