Thursday, August 03, 2023

No, not Sinead


No, not Sinead, we both said. Of all the deaths that Music Therapy has lamented, then the tragic, awful, desperate sad loss of Sinead O’Connor has hit us the hardest.

We slipped a couple of songs that featured her on last week’s show.

But she’s been a constant since we started the show. Not only the greatest ever cover version, the transformation of a beautiful buried ballad in the archive of His Purple Highness (Prince) but Sinead truly did such an amazing, heart-rending job of making Nothing Compares 2 U her absolute own, that most tributes absolutely led on it last week.

Whenever I put together a playlist for our show, and add it to Spotify, and the anoraks amongst you are very welcome to take a look, then the next song the Spotify Artificial Intelligence powered robots suggest is Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart, featuring Sinead O’Connor, singing ‘Visions of You’. 

Stockport-based Jah Wobble, or Jon Wardle to his family, described her input into the project as “a huge act of generosity”. 

In one of the many, many tributes to her he added: “Typical of her. Refused to take a penny for the session. That track had a massive positive influence on my life. From writing the track with her voice in mind, through to recording it was transcendental.”

Her own songs were incredible too, I Am Stretched on Your Grave and Thank You For Hearing Me, and not just her covers. Though as well as NC2U, her rendition of John Grant's Queen of Denmark is off the scale.

I saw her perform just once, in 2011 at the Manchester International Festival.  

She performed a mix of old songs and new and, yes she did do THAT Prince cover. 

I remember saying at the time that her voice was truly incredible, of that there is no doubt. 

Some of her lyrics are breathtakingly poignant and reflect her complex and confused life - abusive mother, sexual orientation issues, bipolar, relationships, her vacillating faith. 

She carried with her such brutal honesty - such baggage - which clearly brought many hazards. 

As she told her own stories between the songs she never tried to hide anything. It was all laid bare. 

She was really good and I came away slightly comforted that she seemed to have found a kind of peace, and had begun to appreciate the talent she possesses and the respect she still has.

To remind myself of the date I found a review from the Daily Mail. Sure enough they were brutally rude about her and horrible, frankly. Spare me your false tears.

On the evidence of the concert I thought she was on the brink of a bit of a comeback. Her band was very tight and her reggae influences show a varied musical style that nicely complemented her own powerful vocal strength.

Last year, however, she lost her youngest son Jake to suicide. I honestly can’t comprehend how any parent recovers from such a trauma.

But she was recording new material. It is heart breaking that it has taken her death for so may to express the admiration and love they had for her, and the understanding and solidarity with her struggles, be they against the deeply conservative and repressive forces of Ireland’s Catholic church, the patriarchy, the media and the music business.

There have also been re-publications of some of her most memorable open letters. One to Miley Cyrus was priceless and direct.  

I don’t even know if it’s real or fake, but her response to Piers Morgan to a request to come on his show was hilarious. I can't repeat it in a family newspaper, but look it up.

RIP Sinead O’Connor. 

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