It’s strange how it takes someone to depart this mortal coil before you discover just what you’ve missed. And now I am wondering how I managed to miss her first time around. Listening to “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got”, Sinéad’s 1990 sophomore album, I was immediately captivated. The production, the flow, the diversification of style; the autobiographical elements (‘Three Babies’) explaining her move to Bray, that lovely Victorian seaside resort, made clear. A trouble lady, with various health issues, Sinéad was unafraid to bare her soul and take on a music industry at the time, some of whose moguls had a certain view of what a woman should look like and dress like. “London is very druggy. It’s very hard to keep kids away from drugs, to protect them from being mugged,” she said. Nor did she hold back from political opinion, and Maggie Thatcher gets a message on ‘Black Boys on Moped’. And, of course, two years later there was the ripping up of the picture of the Pope during the scandals within the Roman Catholic church. This must be put in the context of a woman who was not anti-religion, but as one who comes across as having deep spiritual and family values.
As for the album itself, Sinéad is well served by her backing musicians who come and go; there is a bit of traditional Irish music, some ‘punky’ (in attitude) rock, haunting string arrangements, but I have to admit my favourite was the title track sung a cappella, which sent a shiver down my spine. You would never get a trite, ‘woe is me’ love song from Sinéad - witness the ingenuity of ‘Last Day of our Acquaintance’.
I haven’t mentioned ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, and for good reason (and not because she was not well received by Prince), for I blame the reductionism of the scores of commercial radio stations who dominate the airwaves for repeating the so called ‘hits’ over and over, with virtually no discussion of the music these days (saves money on a DJ, I suppose!), for me not hearing more of a wonderful singer/ songwriter that I missed first time around. Surely, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ deserves airplay, but then it didn’t quite reach the top 30! Thank goodness we have a few stations who will play album tracks or lesser hits, and for ‘indy’ internet radio for putting the record straight.
My thanks as well to SPOTIFY and WIKIPEDIA for some background. I will, as I always do, invest in her music now that I have had a true exposure to the force of nature that was, and still is, SINÉAD O’CONNOR.