Singer Sinéad O’Connor dies…

A sad night for music fans with the announcement of the death of Sinéad O’Connor, aged just 56.

I was a massive fan of Sinéad’s work. She was such an original artist when her first album, The Lion and the Cobra came out in 1987. The music was nothing like you had heard before. One minute she had the voice of an angel, the next she was screaming her head off in rage.

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I had the pleasure of being stood up by her at her concerts not once but twice. Back in 1993, she was meant to play the Peace Together Concert I was at in the Point in Dublin but did not show. Then I got tickets for her concert as part of Feile -The West Belfast Festival back in 1999 but the concert was cancelled due to a disagreement with the organisers over her plans to criticise IRA punishment beatings.

I always have a high tolerance for awkward f*ckers, you would need to be running Slugger, but Sinéad did like to take provocation to new levels. She is most famous for ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul the Second on Saturday Night Live in 1992. Interestingly the photo belonged to her mother, who Sinéad accused of abuse.

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What has not aged well is the Joe Pesci Monologue on Saturday Night Live the following week:

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I read Sinéad’s autobiography Rememberings, and you could see a strong self-sabotage streak in her. As we would say in Belfast, she came across as ‘hard work’; you would never know what to expect from her next. One minute she was a Catholic priest, then the next minute, she was converting to Islam.

The phrase tortured genius is a bit of a cliche, but in Sinéads case, it does seem to be a good description. Right from her early years, she had her demons, which plagued her throughout her life. As so many discover, fame and money did not bring her happiness. As she sang herself in “Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home”:

You have no time to love me anymore
Since fame and fortune knocked upon our door
And I spend all my evenings all alone
Success has made a failure of our home

In recent years the Irish public was well aware of her struggles, and there was a kindness and protectiveness shown to her that was quite touching. Last year, this came to the fore with the tragic death of her son Shane, aged 17, a shock that any parent would struggle to come to terms with.

Sinéad was an original and creative pioneer who did much to advance female artists.

Sleep easy Sinéad, may you be at peace at last.

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