"The Trick Is to Keep Breathing" is a song by Garbage, released as the joint-fourth single from their platinum second album Version 2.0. The single was only released in a few European countries such as Germany and Russia and in Israel. The single was released simultaneously alongside "When I Grow Up", which was issued in other European territories including the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, to promote the band's January 1999 arena tour.
"The Trick Is To Keep Breathing" was written and recorded by Garbage (Duke Erikson, Shirley Manson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig) at their own recording studio during the 1997 sessions for Version 2.0. The title of the song was taken from Scottish author Janice Galloway's 1989 novel The Trick Is To Keep Breathing, now widely considered to be a contemporary Scottish classic, which was published in the United Kingdom by Vintage (UK) and in North America by Dalkey Archive Press.
The basis of "The Trick Is To Keep Breathing" was conceived by Garbage in March 1997, whilst they were staying at a friend's house on Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington, where they spent time jamming to come up with material for their second album.
Shirley Manson later told Pulse! magazine "The boys were playing some of the chords, and the lyrics just came out in like two minutes. I've never had to review them really. They were perfect the way they were, and that never happened to me before."
"The Trick Is To Keep Breathing" started out "very simple", however over time there was a lot more recorded for it. When the band mixed the song, they made it "a lot more moody and spare".
Shirley added "It's that general feeling of just keep pushing and you'll get through it. I think everybody can connect with that feeling".
"The Trick Is To Keep Breathing" was released as a single in Europe following Version 2.0's third single release "Special". It was issued in February 5 1999 following the January release of "When I Grow Up", which was released as a single in other European territories. The band had embarked upon a 21-date arena tour of Europe, of which both singles were in support of.
A card sleeve 2-track single was also planned to be released by BMG, but was never properly issued. The release was listed on the Garbage.com discography from 1999 onwards, and fans have tried to track the single down since.
The "The Trick is To Keep Breathing" music video was shot onstage at three Garbage live concerts: at the Egyptian Theater, Indianapolis, Indiana on November 17, 1998; at the Dane County Expo Center, Madison, Wisconsin on November 18 and at the American Theater in St. Louis, Missouri. Footage for the video was shot at the same time as shooting for the "When I Grow Up" music video.
The promotional video for the single was produced by Oil Factory films, directed by Sophie Muller. Like the "When I Grow Up" clip, the video is a live performance video; the video differs from the in that instead of showing a live show frenzy on screen, the video is more subdued and moody, with cool blue and green hues lighting the stage as the band perform. Much of the video is in slow-motion.
"The Trick Is To Keep Breathing" was first performed live on October 19, 1998 at the band's performance at USF Special Events Center in Tampa, Florida during the Version 2.0 tour. The song was performed semi-regularly until its last performance on October 3, 1999 at The Palace in Melbourne, Australia, when it was dropped from the set. The song was not included on the beautifulgarbage or Bleed Like Me tour set-lists.
On January 27, 1999, MTV Europe recorded the band's live show at The Zenith Arena in Paris, France. The five-song MTV Live special included the band's performance of "The Trick is To Keep Breathing" from the night. The show was broadcast on MTV networks worldwide, from April 1 that year.