“As long as the house of The Holy Spirit remains a haven for criminals the reputation of the church will remain in ruins.” — Sinéad O’Connor

It’s her birthday today. We lost her this year. I’ll never be over it.

It’s hard to describe what it was like when Sinéad O’Connor arrived on the world stage. She came from seemingly nowhere. Her voice was eerie and transcendent. She was drop-dead gorgeous. Her head was shaved. It was a protest against objectification, an announcement she would not be just another “pop star”. She insisted she wasn’t a pop star at all. “I’m a protest singer,” she said. She arrived fully formed into a world that had no place for her. She created her own place. The second she arrived, you couldn’t imagine what it was like before she got there. That’s how it was when Sinéad O’Connor arrived.

If I had to talk about favorite songs … there are so many. “Troy” blows your hair back. “Red Football.” Protest. “This is the Last Day of Our Acquaintance.” Personal. “Famine.” Political. “Scorn Not His Simplicity.” “Black Boys on Mopeds.” Political. “Daddy I’m Fine.” “No Man’s Woman.” “4th and Vine.”

She torched her career when she tore up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live.

But she was fucking right.

And she was courageous enough to say it out loud when nobody wanted to hear it. When people were still propping up evil, defending and denying it. She ruined her career for it. She was fucking RIGHT. Where were all the apologies owed her?

If you haven’t seen this recent performance of “Nothing Compares 2 U” … clear your schedule.

My brother wrote an essay about her album The Lion and the Cobra.

Sinéad O’Connor deserved better. The world showed its true colors in response to her, as it always does when someone breaks from the status quo, when someone says “FUCK THIS”, when someone tells the truth nobody wants to hear.

Let’s end with “Troy”. Hair-raising. Let’s look at the recording and then watch it live.

I will never stop being sad.

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6 Responses to “As long as the house of The Holy Spirit remains a haven for criminals the reputation of the church will remain in ruins.” — Sinéad O’Connor

  1. Marc A says:

    I was watching SNL that night, when she tore up the photo. It remains the most compelling thing I’ve ever seen on television. She sang Bob Marley’s “War” a cappella. It was beautiful and breathtaking. She’s fearless and I love her for it.

    • sheila says:

      I was watching SNL that night too and could not believe what I was seeing! I kept thinking – “wait, did that just happen?”

      Totally fearless and good for her.

  2. Shawn says:

    Absolutely right Sheila! And I am a lover of Sinead O’Connor too. In addition to the shock of the pope dis, it was also hilarious because of how shocking it was. I still get a giddy feeling from it. She was dead serious. But as a viewer, the idea of someone standing for their own truth at that time was completely unheard of. And SNL was not known as any serious platform for that. Now I can see, though she was prepared to stand on her principles, she was not prepared to sustain the critical dialogue she opened with a reactionary, dysfunctional media, and public. There’s so much to learn from her story. The new documentary does a great job of contextualizing what happened.

  3. As soon as I heard today’s sad news, I came here. I knew you had to have written about her. I’ve quoted this piece today on my own site. She was one of those forces of nature that seems to come from nowhere…but she did come from somewhere, obviously…the Ireland that remembers many things, not all of them bright.

    And dammit, she was RIGHT that night on the SNL stage.

    • sheila says:

      I wish I had written more about her music and what it meant to me – she was one of those artists who was in constant rotation in my music collection – never really far from me. Universal Mother. Faith and Courage. The songs she recorded with the Monks of Glenstal Abbey. and of course Lion and the Cobra. and Gospel Oak. Am I Not Your Girl? so much music.

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