Sinéad O'Connor - A Voice For The Broken

Sinéad O'Connor
Credit: Richard Schroeder/Getty Images

As I type, I've just woken up, and I was hoping it was a bad dream, but it wasn't. The magnificent Sinéad O'Connor died yesterday, and my heart truly sank as I saw the news appearing on my phone. The inevitable and predictable outpouring of grief mongers duly posted their 'tributes' all over social media, the same ones who no doubt mocked her for changing her religion or whatever else she might've done that made them feel uncomfortable over the past 30+ years.

This is a woman who did things very differently at a time when it was much more challenging to do so. A woman who was left abandoned by her record company (the same record company that she had made ridiculous amounts of money for after 'Nothing Compares 2 U' became the biggest-selling global hit of 1990). A woman who spoke up for the broken people of this world when we didn't know we were broken. A woman who spoke up for women in the music industry and took absolutely no shit off any record company executives. A woman who KNEW she would have no career left after ripping up a picture of the Pope (the single most Rock'n'Roll act ever seen on TV) on Saturday Night Live.

A woman who shaved the Public Enemy logo onto the side of her head in solidarity with the group (and Hip Hop in general) being ignored at music award shows in the 1980s. A woman who was abused by her Mother, the Catholic Church and most of all by the world's media. She was a woman who struggled with mental illness for the majority of her life and was very outspoken about it when no one else ever was —A FEARLESS woman.

Back in 2015, I was lucky enough to have worked with Sinéad when she released her version of 'The Foggy Dew', in honour of the re-enactment of the funeral of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa (renowned leader of the Fenian movement in the 19th century, seeking independence from Britain) in Dublin that year. This is the proudest moment of my career as a music PR agent, and Sinéad couldn't have been easier to work with; far from the 'crazy woman' the media had made her out to be for all those years, she was the most beautiful person, inside and out and so appreciative of everything we did for her and the campaign.

Weirdly, I was only talking to my friend Paul Ripley yesterday afternoon about my favourite ever song, which is 'I Am Stretched on Your Grave', taken from Sinéad's excellent album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, a song that I have tattooed on the whole of my left thigh. I couldn't class Sinéad as a friend, I didn't know her personally, and unfortunately, I never met her; we communicated via email. I know this, though; some people make a REAL imprint on you and Sinéad O'Connor only ever brought beauty into my life, and for that, I will be forever thankful. R.I.P. Sinéad, you gorgeous soul. X

Below is a little review I did of I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got for National Album Day when the theme was women in music two years ago:

Sophomore album from the angel-voiced Dublin lass. It's National Album Day tomorrow (Saturday, 16th October), and this year's theme is celebrating women in music, so I'm celebrating this remarkable woman and this beautiful album.

When it comes to women in music, I think it's safe to say Sinéad does what she wants when she wants and has been doing from the very beginning of her career. Whether you agree with her views and decisions is irrelevant; the fact that she's played the game her way and by her own rules has to be appreciated and applauded. Away from any of the controversies, though, the fact remains that Sinéad was blessed with the most beautiful voice I've ever heard, and it's never more evident than what is probably my favourite ever song, 'I Am Stretched On Your Grave'. The lyrics to the track are taken from an anonymous 17th-century Irish poem translated from Gaelic to English by writer Frank O'Connor (no relation).

The backing track is a sample of James Brown's famous 'Funky Drummer', with a fiddle played by Steve Wickham. This eclectic mix is music perfection to my ears and Sinéad's masterpiece as far as I'm concerned. Elsewhere on the album, there is the most gorgeous Number 1 single ever made. Famously written by Prince but executed so perfectly by Sinéad, 'Nothing Compares 2 U' still gives me goosebumps to this day, a testament to its timeless beauty.

'The Last Day of Our Acquaintance' is another highlight with a guest appearance from bass-playing maestro Jah Wobble. Andy Rourke, formerly of The Smiths, also appears on the album on various tracks throughout, along with Marco Pirroni on lead guitar and John Reynolds on drums. I could harp on about the pain and anguish heard in many of the lyrics of this album all day, but you're better off listening to the woman herself, telling it like it is, like no one else can.

Thank God for Sinéad O'Connor; we are indeed blessed to have her.

 

Xsnoize Author
Sean Crossey 86 Articles
Seán is based in Manchester; his favourite artists include James Brown, MF Doom, The National, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Eric B & Rakim, Aretha Franklin, Serge Gainsbourg, John Lennon and Public Enemy. Sean has also been a promoter, DJ and a failed musician. Nowadays he resides in the Northern Quarter of Manchester and is a vinyl junkie, sneaker collector and MCFC fan.

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